Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria have called on the country’s wealthy citizens to send their private jets to Sudan to help evacuate stranded Nigerians, particularly students, from that war-torn country and bring them back home.
Akelicious reports that, for now, only the chairman and chief executive officer of Airpeace, Mr Oscar Onyema, has volunteered his aeroplanes to airlift distressed Nigerians from the crisis-torn country.
But now, civil society organisations are appealing to other Nigerians who own private airplanes to volunteer for the purpose of rescuing their countrymen from the war-torn nation.
The CSOs also criticised the federal government’s lackadaisical attitude towards the evacuation of Nigerians trapped in Sudan.
This is just as the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has said that 16,000 foreigners fleeing the conflict in Sudan had crossed the border into Egypt as of Thursday, with over 14,000 of them Sudanese entering Egypt through the Qustul and Arqeen border crossings. Thousands more are still waiting to enter.
Akelicious reports that war broke out in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces and a paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSP), both of whom are fighting over supremacy and the control of power in the country.
Fighting broke out between the two groups on April 15, 2023 following an impasse over the appropriate date to integrate the more than 30,000 strong RSP into the armed forces.
But while other countries are evacuating their citizens, Nigeria intervention has been hampered by poor planning and logistical challenges.
There were videos obtained by Akelicious about some Nigerians stranded in the desert areas without food and water.
Some of them who spoke in the video said the buses sent by the Nigerian government to evacuate them could not reach the desired destination, adding that many Nigerians are still trapped in Sudan without help.
But CSOs have frowned at what is happening in Sudan, appealing to rich Nigerians to send their private jets to help in the evacuation process.
The CSOs are: Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Transparency International (TI) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).
Speaking through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, the CSOs said anything anyone can do to help evacuate stranded Nigerians should be done.
“Anything that can be done to rescue Nigerians is welcome. If Nigerian government abandoned it responsibility, others should help.
“We are calling on Nigerians, especially the rich Nigerians with private jets, to help in the evacuation process in Sudan,” Rafsanjani said.
“It is not fair that the government that should protect the lives of the citizens is now playing games. This is disloyalty to the citizens that have paid their allegiance to the country and the government.
“If the government can help all Nigerians that are caught up in this crisis in Sudan, it will help. We are appealing to rich Nigerians who have the means to send their private jets to help in this evacuation process,” Rafsanjani added.
According to reports, 7,000 foreign nationals, including Nigerians, who fled the crisis to arrive at the border with Egypt have been refused passage by the Egyptian authorities through its border, who insisted on visas.
The chairman/CEO of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Dr. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, disclosed this in a statement yesterday even as she called on the persons concerned with passages and movement of persons along contiguous borders of Sudan to create a humane condition for the affected people to have unfettered access to their various destinations.
The NIDCOM boss had announced on Thursday that Nigerians were expected to arrive in Abuja yesterday in the first batch of the evacuation organised by the federal government. However, the attitude of the Egyptian authorities may delay this process as the foreign nationals were not being allowed to cross the border into Egypt since they arrived there late on Thursday.
Assuring that the “Nigerian mission in Egypt has been working tirelessly on this as the Egyptian authorities are insisting on visas by fellow Africans to transit back to their countries,” Dabiri-Erewa appealed to the Egyptian authorities to allow the already traumatised travellers to transit to their final destinations in various African countries.
On Thursday at a briefing at the State House, Abuja, She had said that 13 out of the 40 buses hired to transport Nigerians from Sudan had already left since Wednesday and moved by road to a border town of Aswan in Egypt where both the Embassy staff in Egypt and the director general of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) would receive the evacuees.
She stated that 10 of the buses transported Nigerians from universities in Khartoum while the remaining three buses were dispatched to El- Razi University to convey students to a border town in Egypt.
On allegations of segregation and discrimination in the evacuation process, she explained that children and women were given priority as they were profiled for administrative purposes.
The NIDCOM boss had earlier said a Boeing 777 plane from Airpeace would depart Lagos by the evening of Thursday and would transport the first batch back to Nigeria by yesterday.
On Thursday night she said in a tweet that the first batch of evacuees had arrived at the Aswan border and would leave for the airport first thing on Friday morning.
That didn’t happen as all the evacuees were stuck at different border crossings. There were also reports that some of the buses carrying the stranded Nigerian drove to the wrong borders, which had not been agreed upon between the Nigerian and Egyptian governments.
Dabiri-Erewa, however, assured Nigerians that all those who registered to be evacuated home will be returned to the country irrespective of status, gender and state.
She explained that besides the huge population of Nigerian students in Sudan, there were millions of other Nigerians in the country doing their legitimate businesses and residing there peacefully.
She allayed the fears of then being attacked by the warlords, saying the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, had already secured the understanding of the two warring parties before the transportation of Nigerians by road.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved $1.2 million to procure 40 buses for the immediate evacuation of the Nigerians stranded in Sudan.
According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, the amount would be spent on the hiring of 40 luxury buses that will transport the stranded Nigerians from Khartoum in Sudan to Egypt, from where they will be airlifted to Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian government said it had already eased requirements for Sudanese and other nationalities wishing to enter through the crossing points, including women, children and men above the age of 50, who may enter without a prior visa, but must still have a valid passport and vaccination card.
Men between the ages of 16 and 49 are required to have a valid passport and visa in addition to a vaccination card.
Egypt’s embassy in Khartoum, its consulate in Port Sudan and its consulate office in Wadi Halfa near the Arqeen crossing are responsible for issuing visas.