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The third batch of stranded Nigerian evacuees numbering 131 arrived in Nigeria on Saturday.
The third batch of returnees who were conveyed by Tarco Airline plane B737-300 that arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja 1.45pm .
The theirs batch brings to 637 evacuees airlifted back to Nigeria since the country started airlifting on Wednesday.
The first batch of 376 were airlifted on Wednesday by Air Peace and Nigerian Airforce plane, C 130 while the second batch of 130 comprising 99% females were airlifted by a Sudanese aircraft, Taco on Friday.
The first batch were airlifted from Egypt while the second batch came in from Port Sudan.
The 3rd batch was also from Port Sudan.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management of Social Development, Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo
Sani-Gwarzo explained that the federal government facing challenges in sending bigger planes to evacuate stranded Nigerians from Sudan.
This is as the government also promised to take the returnees through trauma counselling.
Sani-Gwarzo, however, said efforts were still on to get permit from the Sudanese government and other neighbouring countries so as to send bigger planes.
He spoke on Saturday shortly after receiving the third batch of 131 stranded Nigerians from Port Sudan.
Speaking at the reception for evacuees, Sani-Gwarzo also gave the assurance that more planes will be going to Sudan.
He said, “More aircrafts will go. Our limitation has not been the ability to send aircraft but the fact that large-bodied aircraft cannot go to Port Sudan at the moment except smaller ones, otherwise, you would have seen about 500 at a go but we are still working with the Sudanese government and those countries along the route to make sure that large-bodied aircraft can go. With that, I assure you in less than 24 hours, we will finish the evacuation.”
On those who are sick, he said: “There are three people that are sick, I just interacted with them and we are taking them to the hospital. One has a wound in his hand and two others have severe abdominal pain due to ulcer.
“We sent them to the hospital not because their condition is bad but we want maximum best for them. From the hospital, they will proceed home because they look stable but we don’t want to take any chance.”
On his part, the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Ahmed said the action to bring women, children and the sick was deliberate.
He hinted that about 800 students will be airlifted from Aswan tomorrow.
He said: “We have aircraft on the ground as we speak, two are in Aswan and our people are on their way to the airport, So hopefully, they will take off tomorrow morning and by tomorrow afternoon or evening, we will receive a large batch of almost 800 students.
“For Port Sudan, we will continue with the evacuation. TARCO is going back, Azman is going to do back to back because of its 400 seater capacity and we have already started engaging Air Peace to go back because of the 274-seater capacity.”
The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa disclosed that the returnees would undergo trauma counselling.
She said: “There will be trauma counselling for all the returnees because they have gone through a lot of trauma. Watch out for information on various websites of the emergency team on various counselling for everyone. We are talking to Dangote and some other NGOs about that.”
She also expressed joy that the process had commenced.
Dabiri-Erewa also reiterated the promise that no single Nigerian would be left behind.
She said, ” It is not over, until it is over. Another batch is coming tomorrow. Thank God the tension is less now, and one thing is certain, no one would be left behind. Unfortunately, some people put a tribal colouration to all these issues. You can see, the mission wanted them to be orderly, and priority was given to women and children. If a man jumps through the window and comes out to say oh because I am from this ethnic group, I think that is most uncharitable.
But nobody will be left behind.”
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