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Govt role out fresh conditions to evacuate more Nigerians from Sudan

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Nigerians still stranded in Sudan have been told to fund their movement to Port Sudan if they want the Federal Government to evacuate them from the crisis-ridden country.

Besides, they must have means of identification to authenticate their status in Sudan as Nigerians and also have verifiable contacts and addresses here in Nigeria.

The fresh conditions were announced yesterday by the Federal Government through the Nigeria Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), which gave an update on the evacuation of stranded Nigerians from Sudan.

The agency confirmed over the weekend that 2518 Nigerians have been evacuated by the government.

NiDCOM said: “There will be mop-up operation of those still in Sudan with some conditions, namely:

•You must get yourself to Port Sudan.

•You must have a means of identification as a Nigerian.

•You must have a verifiable contact or an abode in Nigeria.”

It described as “worrisome that the figure rose from 26 to about 200”, arguing that all students who came out have been evacuated except those who just came out when the exercise had almost been concluded.”

Explaining government’s decision to profile the remaining 160 stranded peoples before airlifting them back to Nigeria, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo said the measure was not to put them on criminal list.

“It is to aid the Federal Government to categorise the evacuees”, the permanent secretary said.

According to him, a committee has been raised in Sudan to ensure proper profiling.

Sani-Gwarzo identified 95 per cent of the 2,518 Nigerians as students.

He, however, said that asides those in Sudan, 29 other Nigerians are in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and South Sudan waiting to be evacuated.

The permanent secretary said: “We do have another category of Nigerians that remains behind. Whether Nigerians are resident of Sudan or some of them that were recent travelers, we have several categories of Nigerians that are resident in Sudan.

“There are people that are recent travellers who wanted to come back home and were evacuated. Some people have been in Sudan for several years, dating back some hundreds of years, from family to family, from generation to generation. So, for such, we have some of them who want to come back.

“We have a committee that is profiling them in Sudan. And they will be brought back home to safety. Just like the students have all been brought back home.”

“We realised that most people are now moving to Sudan to ask to be airlifted. Some have no documents, and no identity cards. You will meet somebody who has been in Sudan for 10 to 20 years and who has lost every touch with his documents and just coming up to say, ‘I’m a Nigerian’. If you are the immigration officer, would you just pick that person up? So, that’s why we’re profiling and when we say profiling, the first thing is criminal profiling, no.

“To be sure that they are Nigerians and to be sure of where to categorise them because when they come in, in technical parlance, there’s a difference between a refugee and a displaced person.

“All those determine how we’re going to interact with them. If they are Nigerians and we bring them back home, they are called displaced persons. But if they are not Nigerians and we bring them back to Nigeria, their status is not displaced but they are refugees. So, all these technicalities are what we are looking at.

“Some people may have just travelled and their documents have been stolen but they still want to come back home. For such people, it’s very easy to give them an ETC. But some people have been in Sudan for generations. Now, there is an opportunity to come back home. So, when you bring them back home, they will have to look for where their ancestors are and their home towns.

“It is not to put them on a criminal list, it is to help the refugee commission – the NEMA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria Immigration Service to clearly situate them and when they come.”

On other Nigerians in other countries, he said: “The 45 Nigerians in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, have already been repatriated, with only 13 individuals remaining and prompt efforts are underway to bring them home.

“In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, there are 31 Nigerians but they have returned, except for nine, and seven individuals are in South Sudan who will reunite with their families.

“Notably, all 800 travellers who transited through Egypt have successfully returned home, leaving no pending cases.”

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