Sudan: Two aircraft flight back 376 Nigerians

After many hiccups, 376 Nigerians were airlifted from Egypt by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and Air Peace planes yesterday.
The aircraft were expected to touched down at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja around midnight.

The had not arrived as at 11:00pm press time.

The planes departed the Aswan Airport, Egypt at about 5 pm after hours of delay.

Ahead of take-off, the military situation room update stated: “The C130 (NAF plane) estimated time of arrival (ETA) is 11:40 pm (yesterday).”

The Air Peace plane is expected to arrive at 11.13 pm.

Aswan-Abuja flight time is about five hours.

Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said passengers exceeded the vacant seats on the planes, which caused a delay.

The Egyptian authorities had insisted that the number of evacuees must not exceed the space in the aircraft.

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The C130 and the Air Peace could only convey 350 passengers, but 376 Nigerians made their way to the Aswan airport, which is against the terms of the agreement reached with the Egyptian authorities.

The NAF plane eventually agreed to let in the extra 26 Nigerians after some luggage was removed.

Dabiri-Erewa said: “The number of passengers did not match. Egypt insisted no one will leave if the number is more than what the aircraft can take.

“The bags in the NAF plane were taken into Air Peace cargo to create more space for the 26 passengers. It took hours but now sorted.”

Humanitarian catastrophe looms, UN chief warns

Sudan’s de facto president Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has been fighting his deputy Mohammed Hamdan Daglo with the help of the military since April 15.

Daglo is the leader of the influential paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The two generals took over the leadership of the country of about 46 million through two military coups in 2019 and 2021.

United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the international community to support Sudan as the African nation faces a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

“Khartoum is in turmoil; Darfur is burning once again,” Guterres told reporters in Nairobi.

“The Sudanese are facing a humanitarian catastrophe. Hospitals destroyed. Humanitarian warehouses looted. Millions facing food insecurity.

“We need secure and immediate access to distribute it to people who need it most … and humanitarian workers and assets must be respected.”

He urged all parties to put the “interests of the Sudanese people first” and for the fighting to stop before the conflict “explodes into an all-out war that could affect the region for years to come”.

Guterres is in Nairobi for a two-day official visit to hold talks with Kenya’s President William Ruto on the security and humanitarian situation in Sudan.

He echoed Ruto’s calls for de-escalation, a return to the negotiating table and an agreement on a lasting ceasefire.”

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said he was working on obtaining commitments by the warring parties to protect humanitarian assistance to ensure it can be delivered to those in need.

The International Monetary Fund has said the military conflict will have huge consequences for the Sudanese people and the country’s economy and could affect its neighbours if it drags on.

The Washington-based fund’s efforts to help steer Sudan’s economy out of the crisis with a $65 billion debt relief programme, the biggest in IMF’s history, have been derailed by the violence, Jihad Azour, director of its Middle East and Central Asia Department, said.

“This is one of those cases where conflict is limiting or reducing the capacity of people,” Mr Azour told a press conference in Dubai.

As the human toll rises, Sudanese civilians are also fleeing the country and the flow of refugees is on the rise.

About 330,000 Sudanese have been internally displaced by the war, while the violence has so far forced 100,000 people to flee across the border, the UN has said.

Exhausted Sudanese and foreigners are joining growing crowds at Sudan’s main seaport, waiting to leave the country.

“Much of the capital has become empty,” said Abdalla al-Fatih, a Khartoum resident who fled with his family to Port Sudan.

He said they had been trapped for two weeks.

<<The Nation>>