Daily Trust (Abuja)

Central African Republic: 4,000 Nigerians Stranded in Bangui

About 4,000 Nigerians are stranded in Central African Republic (CAR) capital Bangui as fresh rounds of violence erupted.

They are stranded in different locations with some seeking refuge at the Nigerian Embassy in Bangui, where there were no security personnel.

The Nigerian foreign ministry earlier confirmed that people of Nigerian descent were among those killed in the country recently.

A member of Northern Nigerian Association in Bangui, Garba Madi, told Daily Trust by telephone that Nigerians both Christians and Muslims living there are being targeted by militias.

"We have conducted funerals for over 200 people from northern Nigeria killed here since December 5, when fresh violence started. We have about 4,000 members apart from the Igbos who are living in separate locations," he said.

He said the Nigerian government had recently asked its nationals living in Bangui to register with its embassy "but there was no response since then. Many people have forwarded their names and a number of Nigerians are seeking refuge at the embassy.

"There is no ambassador and the Head of Mission is nowhere to be found. There are no security personnel at the embassy compared to other countries that deployed soldiers to their offices to guard their people.

"Some countries such as Chad and Cameroon have since commenced evacuating their people."

He said Nigerians are stranded in different areas of Bangui in large numbers including Sen Kilo, Marshi Abitai and Miskin and are in need of food and water.

He urged the federal government to deploy planes to airlift those stranded.

Madi later sent a text message to Daily Trust yesterday (3:45pm) saying fighting had erupted at many locations in Bangui with large population of Nigerians including Gobongo, Ngola and Karte.

But the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) yesterday said evacuation of Nigerians CAR has been put on hold because of security reasons.

A NEMA official told Daily Trust in a telephone interview that the process has been put on hold because of security challenges.

"The security challenge in the country made the agency to put the evacuation process on hold but as soon as we get clearance on the security situation, the agency will start the process immediately," the source said.

The source said that "no time or specific date has been fixed for the exercise but it will be carried out soon."

Also, a source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Nigerians in Bangui had been directed to go and register at the embassy. He said they have not been following the event in the CAR lately since they have spoken with the NEMA for their evacuation.

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