By Dike Achalla
The National Emergency Management agency (NEMA) has undertaken the successful evacuation of 2,865 Nigerian citizens since crisis broke out in Sundan in April 2023.
This is in continuation of the emergency rescue of Nigerian citizens that are stranded in the war torn country.
A TARCO Aviation aircraft touched down at 12.09pm on Friday July 28, 2023 with 205 evacuees made up of 160 adults and 45 children/infants. They were received upon arrival on behalf of the Federal Government by the Director General NEMA Mustapha Habib Ahmed in company of other officials. The returnees were evacuated from the airport in Port Sudan to Abuja.
Expressing delight at the arrival of the evacuees, the DG of NEMA noted that since the crisis began “we have not lost one Nigerian life, which is most important to us.”
Speaking further he explained the use of TARCO airlines. “We are using the Sudanese based airline, TARCO to evacuate Nigerians, they have been working with us assiduously and they had to engage the military authorities for us to be able to airlift these people
Highlighting the importance of cooperation and collaboration in disaster management which has been described as multi-task, multi-discipline and multi-jurisdictional, Ahmed acknowledged the full support and collaboration of various agencies of government, the private sector & general public in making the evacuations possible.
They include the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Commission for Refugees Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Nigerian in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC) and Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Dangote Foundation amongst others.
Upon arrival, the passengers were profiled by the reception team, cleared by the Immigration Service, served with meals then provided shelter, psychological support, and essential provisions with Dangote Foundation offering each returnee N100,000 to facilitate their transportation to their final destinations.
The DG noted that with the recent evacuation only 40 Nigerian nationals now remain in Sudan and would soon be evacuated. Evacuation is usually contingent on NEMA working diligently alongside the Nigerian embassy to profile the individuals to ensure that they hold valid Nigerian passports.
Mustapha Habib Ahmed acknowledged that the mission was not without its challenges especially since accessing the airspace was a hurdle to be overcome, one that was navigated with utmost dedication and determination with an unwavering commitment to bring stranded Nigerians home safely.
He urged the returnees to reflect on their experience to help support the promotion of peaceful coexistence and economic development of Nigeria while promising that the FG is committed to ensuring that no stranded Nigerian is left in the war-torn country.
Speaking upon their arrival, the evacuees commended the FG and NEMA for facilitating their return home. Ridwan Yusuf, a student in a Sudanese university said “I thank God, the Federal Government, NEMA and the Nigerian embassy in Sudan for what they did for us. I want to say we are happy to be back home.”
Addressing the media and other stakeholders, Mustapha Habib Ahmed said: “Today, we celebrate unity, resilience, and compassion and our primary focus will always be the safety and well-being of our people. NEMA stands resolute, working closely with the Refugee and Diaspora Commission, as well as our partners in the airline and military authorities, to ensure the successful completion of this mission. We commend the support of the Dangote Foundation in providing dignity packs and a cash token of N100,000 per passenger for transportation.”