The third batch of 131 stranded Nigerians evacuated from conflict-ridden Sudan has arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the evacuees arrived at the Pilgrims Terminal of the airport at exactly 1:45 p.m., on board a TARCO aircraft from Port Sudan.
Receiving the returnees, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Dr Sani Gwarzo, said that psycho-social support would be given to all the returnees.
“NEMA, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Ministry of Health, and the Dangote Foundation have put in place a robust plan to look at the psycho-social support related to the stress they have faced so that it will not persist.
“This will be a service that will extend into the weeks ahead and I can tell you that the committee saddled with this responsibility are happy with how far we have gone,” he said.
Gwarzo added that more Nigerians were being profiled in Port Sudan and the Egyptian border for onward evacuation to the country.
According to him, the federal government is committed to evacuating everyone, students, and non-students, in the next few days.
Mr Mustapha Ahmed, Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) added that two aircraft were already on the ground at Aswan Airport in Egypt to evacuate more Nigerians.
“Our people are already on their way to the airport, so hopefully, they will take off tomorrow morning and by tomorrow afternoon, we will be back to receive a large batch of almost 800 students
“At Port Sudan, TARCO airline is going back to pick more returnees, even as Air Peace airline would be evacuating more returnees from that same point,” he said.
Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), said another batch would be coming into the country on Sunday.
“One thing is certain that no one will be left behind, but it is unfortunate that some people put some tribal colouration to this issue.
“The mission wanted the process to be orderly and priority was given to women and children, but it is important to note that no one will be left behind,” she said.
She also called on the evacuees yet to be airlifted to be patient, as all necessary procedures were being put in place to ensure their safe return.
Master Deen Shittu, a returnee and a 400-level medical student at the Al-Fajir College of Science and Technology, Khartoum, Sudan, expressed happiness for their safe return.
“What we faced was a very bad experience, I can say that war is not an option and I do not pray we face that in Nigeria.
“It was difficult to eat, I also drank water that was bad which I know would hurt me health-wise, but there was nothing I could do.
“But I hope to go back when peace returns to the country to complete my education because I do not know where to start.
“Though if I get a university in Nigeria that would accept me in the same level and the same course, I would remain here,” he said.
NAN reports that the returnees were given N100,000 each donated by the Dangote Foundation, MTN sim cards with recharge cards and data, school bags, food, and drinks upon arrival at the airport. (NAN)