The second batch of 130 evacuees, comprising 128 females and two males, arrived in Nigeria from Port Sudan on Friday. The plane landed at 3.22pm via Taco Aviation.
A total of 506 stranded Nigerians from war-torn Sudan have so far arrived in Nigeria in two days.
Our correspondents reported that the first batch of 376 stranded Nigerians arrived in Nigeria on Wednesday night after spending seven days at the Arqeen border from Khartoum, Sudan.
The Air Peace plane airlifted 282 evacuees and landed by 11.35pm, while NAF C130 arrived at 11.55pm with 94 stranded Nigerians.
In an earlier video via Twitter on Friday, the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Sudan, Safiu Olaniyan, who was still at Port Sudan, expressed joy that some of the students had arrived in Nigeria.
He said, “It has been tough but at long last, we are on our way home. Pray for us. We are still here. Some of your brothers and sisters are still here. Very soon, they will be joining you.
“This is the arrangement the Federal Government made for you. Compliment what the government has done. We still have a long way to go. I wish you a safe flight.”
Addressing journalists after receiving the second batch of evacuees, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, said the returnees were airlifted from Port Sudan to prevent the occurrence that befell the first batch at the Egyptian border.
Sani-Gwarzo said, “All the people that arrived today were evacuated from Port Sudan. It is unique because the bulk of our people after facing the initial difficulties at the border of Egypt, moved them to Port Sudan and a flight was arranged for them. This flight is not only a successful outing but it is an eye-opener for the remaining legs of the journey. More flights have been activated.
“I want to emphasise that people have been receiving video clips via social media that some pregnant women were delivered and some people sick, yes, it is true. We had a delivery. She gave birth in the hospital. Both mother and children are well. Someone with a hand injury has been operated on and he is out of the hospital. The Nigerian community in Port Sudan and the Nigerian embassy in Nigeria gave us good support.”
The permanent secretary stated that the plan of another batch of evacuees arriving soon was ruined by some students, adding that the issues had been rectified and about 800 stranded Nigerians would be airlifted from Egypt in a few hours.
He stated “One challenge that we faced today which has thrown us into re-aligning our plans is the fact that some Nigerians were claimed to have entered the bus without permission which caused the Egyptian side to delay the flight until it was sorted. I am happy to say that a few minutes ago, we received a signal from Egypt that all the problems had been cleared and Nigerians had been moved to the Egyptian side of the border. They will take the long journey from the border to the airport in Aswan and we have two planes that can carry all of them back to the country.
“In the next few hours, we shall have no Nigerian traveller stranded or kept on the Egyptian side. All our efforts will now be concentrated on the Nigerians in Port Sudan and from there, they will come home directly.
“We have almost 800 passengers on the Egyptian side heading towards Aswan airport. We have Azman Air and Max Air on the ground to evacuate others. We have activated Air Peace. We are waiting for their feedback. Air Peace will take two flights out of Port Sudan. Tarco Air will continue with about four flights as they promised today. The third batch of evacuees is expected to arrive in 12 hours or less. All things being equal.”
Sani-Gwarzo added that about 1,700 Nigerians remaining in Port Sudan would be evacuated in a few days, adding that no Nigerian would be left behind in Sudan.
Meanwhile, an official of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Ambassador Catherine Udida, said the returnees would be profiled and provided post-trauma treatment.
Udida said, “We have started the profiling of the students. We will do some referrals. We will liaise with the Ministry of Education to find placements in schools where necessary.”
A representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Umar Salisu, said, “We have also directed our missions abroad including all countries that are contiguous borders to Sudan to send their officers there in case any Nigerian is missing around the border or needs assistance and be brought to the missions in that country. We have made adequate arrangements for consular assistance to Nigerians there, including all the six geopolitical zones.”
All returnees received N100,000 each and a bag, courtesy of the Dangote Foundation.
They were also given MTN SIM cards loaded with N5,000 worth of airtime.