The Federal Government said on Monday that Egyptian authorities opened their country’s border for Nigerians fleeing the Sudan war to cross, after an intervention by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
This was made known by the Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on Monday, via her Twitter handle.
Dabiri-Erewa tweeted: “With the intervention of President Buhari, Egypt has finally opened its border to Nigerians fleeing Sudan. With an Air Force plane already on the ground in Aswan, Egypt, the processing of the first set of evacuees will begin.”
Egypt had earlier given the Federal Government conditions for Nigerians fleeing the Sudan war to cross its border.
The first sets of Nigerian evacuees from Sudan, 637 students, had been stranded at the Egyptian border.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had on Sunday night said the Egyptian authorities insisted on clearing all the 637 Nigerians before they could be allowed entry into Egypt.
The minister explained that the Federal Government might move the students to Port Sudan for evacuation if Egypt delayed further.
A message from the Nigerian Ambassador to Egypt, Nura Rimi, sighted by our correspondent on Monday, showed that Egypt had finally granted Nigeria’s approval but on some conditions.
The conditions, according to the message, were: “Details and schedule of the aircraft; capacity of the aircraft; strong pledge that once our citizens depart the border, they will be conveyed directly to the designated airport.
“Comprehensive list of the evacuees, with passport numbers; valid travel documents (passport or ETC; presence of Nigeria Government officials at the points of embarkation. Standby buses that will immediately convey them to the airport.”
Meanwhile, some of the stranded Nigerians at the Egyptian border shared their ordeal with our correspondent.
A student, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “It has not been easy here. Most of the drivers that brought us here have left. We sleep inside the bus sometimes which does not have good windows and the cold is extreme. We have not taken our bath for some days because we cannot afford to pay for it every day. We hope to go home soonest.”
Another student, who identified herself as Amina, lamented that,“Ever since we came from Khartoum to this place, we have been suffering. The drivers picked us all from Khartoum without being paid. They later stopped somewhere in the desert and collected our passports as collateral.
“Since we got here, no water, money or food. We sleep under the bus or in the Sahara. My voice is down right now. Some of us here are sick. It is not easy here. Our money is gone because food is actually expensive here. We pay money for eventually everything that we want to do here. For instance, if we want to urinate, we pay 1,000 Sudanese currency. These people at the border harass the females here. It is very terrible.”
Another student, Abdulsalam Maikano, said “Five days at the border, no food and no water. We even saw in the news that they are giving us food. Many people are sick. On my bus, there is a baby that cries every night because of the cold.”
Meanwhile, those who moved from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, to go to Port Sudan recounted their ordeal to The PUNCH.
One of the buses conveying stranded Nigerians from Khartoum, Sudan, to Port Sudan caught fire in the early hours of Monday, The PUNCH learnt.
The PUNCH learnt that 26 buses conveying the stranded Nigerians left Al Razi around 12am on Monday for Port Sudan where they would move into Saudi Arabia.
The Chairman, Nigerians Elders’ Forum in Sudan, Hashim Na’Allah, said one of the buses broke down due to excessive heat.
He said 50 students were being conveyed in the bus, but no one was injured or died during the incident.
Na’Allah said, “One of the buses conveying some 50 Nigerian students from Sudan with a tag number (Katsina 1) heading to Port Sudan as part of the second batch of FGN evacuation got damaged due to excessive heat from one of the vehicle’s tyres.
“The incident happened around 2:30am Sudan time with 50 students on the bus.
“The driver stopped the bus near an RSF checkpoint, just before the tire exploded causing a fire to start.All the passengers escaped unhurt.
“Forty out of the 50 passengers were later distributed to the other buses evacuating the students, while the remaining passengers spent the night where the incident happened alongside the driver at the RSF checkpoint.
“The students said the RSF really did their best to help the passengers and offered them cups of tea in the morning before they left.”