The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced that the only viable way to evacuate Nigerians out of war-torn Sudan was by road. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, disclosed this in an interview with the press on April 23, 2023. That the National Association of Nigerian Students in Sudan had called on the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) for a possible evacuation from Sudan. The foreign minister said he has been working around the clock in the past two days to get Nigerians out of Sudan.
He said, “First, we have told our embassy there to put up a platform where all the Nigerians in Sudan can log on to and information will be available, and to coordinate the process.” Continuing on he noted that in a situation like this, what the ministry needs is where everybody can congregate before they are moved out. Also, because the airport is not safe, the only viable way out of the war-torn country is by road. While acknowledging that it may not be safe, the government is still required to provide some level of security and a safe corridor.
The country’s airspace is closed, says Rapid Support Forces.
Sudan Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) made an announcement approximately two weeks ago that airspace over the country is closed, with a suspension of air navigation services within the Khartoum flight information region. The directive follows the breaking out of the conflict between the government and paramilitary forces in the country on April 15, 2023. The conflict has spurned attacks on various locations, including at Khartoum Airport where aircrafts have been damaged. NOTAM information issued on behalf of the Sudanese regulator stated that air navigation services would not be available within Khartoum FIR and also above 24,500ft over neighboring South Sudan due to security reasons. Rapid Support Forces, the paramilitary group involved in the conflict, stated on April 15, 2023 that it was in control of air navigation in all of Sudan.
Meanwhile, Onyeama has revealed that the Nigerian government cannot evacuate its diplomatic staff at the moment because they need to also coordinate the evacuation of the students. He revealed that the situation of Nigerians and the Nigerian embassy in Khartoum is challenging. Even the United States has only started evacuating their diplomatic staff, and their citizens are still there. At the present, Nigerian officials are trying to get authorization of the Sudanese government to undertake this long journey. “We don’t want to risk the lives of Nigerians because we saw that the French in trying to evacuate their citizens came under fire,” he said.
FG asks Nigerian student to stay indoors as they decried exploitation.
In a statement released by the Embassy of Nigeria in Khartoum, the government asked Nigerian students in Sudan to disregard plans by NANS to evacuate them to Ethiopia. FG advised them to stay indoors and not go to the borders. H.Y Garko, for Charge D’ Affairs, advised the students to stay calm, adding that plans were underway to evacuate them. Earlier, NANS had made an announcement asking students to converge at three locations for possible evacuation to Ethiopia. The statement read, “This is to inform all Nigerian students to gather at any of these three locations to proceed with the evacuation to Gadarif, then to Ethiopia. One, Ifriqiyyah University; two, NANS office; and three, El-Razi University.”
The students’ body said the departure time was 1 pm and the transport would cost $100. According to Garko, it is dangerous to cross the borders of Sudan without clearance. Also, Nigerian students trapped in the war-torn country again cried out for help. They said they were being exploited at the Ethiopian border by visa officials. This came as Nigerian students of Yoruba extraction weekend sought the help of the South-West governors for their evacuation, following the inability of the federal government to urgently evacuate them.
Yoruba students in Sudan seek S-West governor’s intervention.
These students, under the aegis of Yoruba Students’ Union, Sudan, sought in particular, the intervention of South-West governors on their possible evacuation from Sudan. “On behalf of the Yoruba Students Union in Sudan, we urgently call on the Federal Government and South-West governors to kindly come to our aid with respect to the ongoing crisis in Sudan which has now turned to a survival mode due to the intense civil war of more than a week,” a statement issued by the union’s executive council on April 19, 2023 read in part.