Nigeria launches evacuation of thousands of citizens from Sudan

AFP , Wednesday 26 Apr 2023

Nigeria on Wednesday started evacuating the first of around 3,500 of its nationals, mostly students, from Sudan to neighbouring Egypt as a fragile ceasefire allowed foreigners to flee.

People prepare to board a bus departing from Sudan
People prepare to board a bus departing from Khartoum in the Sudanese capital s south on April 24, 2023, as battles rage in the city between the army and paramilitaries. AFP


Foreign countries are trying to get their citizens out of Sudan after fighting broke out between forces loyal to two rival generals nearly two weeks ago, killing hundreds of people and leaving parts of Khartoum in ruins.

Western nations have sent special forces and military aircraft to help get out embassy staff and citizens. Others have fled the Sudanese capital by road.

"The evacuation of our citizens has commenced. Seven buses have left Khartoum and they are heading to Egypt," Manzo Ezekiel, spokesman for Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) told AFP.

Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama told reporters 40 buses have been hired to trasport Nigerian citizens to Egypt, though trip from Khartoum will take time.

"The distance is quite considerable. We need a couple of days to evacuate everybody," he said.

Khartoum to Aswan is about 1,200 kilometres (745 miles).

The minister said Nigerian military cargo planes and private airline Air Peace will fly the citizens back to Nigeria.

Officials said there are more than 5,000 Nigerians in Sudan.

Onimode Bandele, NEMA special duties director, told AFP on Tuesday officials including embassy staff were at the collection centre to assist in the process.

"We are looking at over 5,000 Nigerians, but right now we are talking of 3,500, including students, that will be transported in buses to Aswan in Egypt," he said.

Bandele said the government had taken all necessary measures to ensure the safety of the Nigerians.

Since fighting erupted, at least 459 people have been killed and more than 4,000 wounded, according to UN agencies, which also reported Sudanese civilians fleeing to Chad, Egypt and South Sudan.

Ghana has said it has evacuated 82 nationals, including three footballers and two others working for an Australian mining company in Sudan.

Most were to be evacuated across the border with Ethiopia and others through Egypt.

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