Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs, says the federal government is working assiduously to ensure the safe evacuation of Nigerians in Sudan.
Onyeama spoke during an interview on Channels Television on Sunday. The minister said about 5,500 Nigerians are in Sudan and over 80 percent of them are students. He said unlike other countries trying to evacuate their diplomatic staff first, Nigeria would want diplomatic staff to coordinate the evacuation of its citizens.
Speaking on the efforts made by the government, the minister said the major goal was to get the approval of the Sudanese government to undertake the long convoy and also provide security. He said the Sudanese government has been reached for authorisation. “We have been working round the clock for the last two days to try and get the Nigerians out. You know, first of all, of course, we have an embassy there. So that’s already a good thing,” Onyeama said.
“We’ve told them to put up a platform, where all the Nigerians in Sudan can, you know, log into and information will be available and to coordinate the process. Obviously, what you need in a situation like this is a place where everybody can congregate before you start moving them out. “The only viable way out is by road. And of course, it’s not safe. So we are going to require the government to provide some security and a safe corridor out. “And our situation is particularly challenging because the numbers are so great. Now, you know, we’ve heard that the US and some other European countries have started evacuating, but they’ve been evacuating the diplomatic staff. They haven’t been able to start evacuating their citizens there. “We can’t evacuate all our diplomatic staff at the moment because they need to also coordinate the evacuation of all those students. So we’re going to also evacuate them.
“So essentially, where we are at the moment is trying to get the authorisation from the Sudanese government to undertake this long convoy journey and for them to provide some security. “We don’t want to expose our citizens to that danger as well. So we’re doing everything we can to get the requisite approval from the Sudanese government at the very highest level. “So we are not going to stop at that, we are going to keep on the options available to us. The Egyptian border is closed. Port Sudan is another place where we understand that some of the international diplomatic people have been congregating and the Ethiopian border.” Violent clashes between Sudan’s army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group, have killed over 400 people, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
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