5 January 2014

Central African Republic: FG Evacuates 1,277 Nigerians From War-Torn Central African Republic

Photo: UNHCR
Nigerian refugees (file photo).

Abuja — The Federal Government has so far evacuated 1,277 Nigerians stranded in crisis-torn Central African Republic, CAR.

The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, which disclosed this in Abuja yesterday, said evacuation exercise would continue until all Nigerians were airlifted out of the war-torn country.

It would be recalled that a United Nations, UN, report, said over one million people had been displaced from their homes in the clashes between Christian militias and the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel group that overthrew President Francois Bozize in March.

According to NEMA, the first batch of evacuees arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Friday, January 3.

The agency said others, who were evacuated on Saturday and Sunday, were all received on behalf of the Federal Government by its Director-General, Muhammad Sani-Sidi, and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Welcoming the returnees home, Sani-Sidi told the evacuees that food and non-food items were available for them at the camp, while contacts had been made with the government of their various states of origin to convey them home.

Most of the registered evacuees were discovered to be indigenes of Bauchi, Edo, Jigawa, Kebbi, Borno, Ekiti, and Anambra, Zamfara, FCT, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Abia, Enugu, Kano, Imo and Kaduna states.

Others were from Sokoto, Kwara, Adamawa, Gombe Nassarawa and Delta.

The governments of Benue, Anambra, Delta, Abia, Edo and Bauchi states have so far commenced the trans-portation of their indigenes out of camp in Abuja.

A breakdown of the evacuees, comprising mainly children, women, the aged and disabled, indicated that the first batch consisted of 365; second batch, 748; and third, 164.

Victims' stories

Meanwhile, some of the evacuees have appealed to the Federal Government for jobs, adding that gainful employment would help to cushion their plights.

One of them, Uche Okechukwu, who hails from Imo State, said: "I am pleading with the Federal Government to help us with jobs, because we have lost everything."

Another evacuee, Mrs Charity Igwe, from Anambra State, who fled CAR with four children, said going home with the children would not be easy for her.

Igwe said her husband refused to come, adding that she had to leave with her children for safety.

Mr. Sule Idris from Kano State said he was coming home after a four-year stay in CAR, stressing that his regrets was that he lost everything.

Idris appealed to the Federal Government to provide him with a job to make life meaningful for him again.

Agencies at work

The Defence Headquarters, DHQ, in collaboration with NEMA, Nigeria Immigration Services and other government agencies are involved in the evacuation of Nigerians from CAR back to the country.

Director of Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, represented by Lt.-Col. Ezindu Idimah, said DHQ had provided Nigerian Air Force plane, medical team and other personnel to assist in the exercise.

The Head, Mission Control Centre of NEMA, Cdr. Mike Igwe, said the agency had been on ground for over a week to provide succour to the displaced persons.

Igwe said there had not been any casualty so far in the exercise.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan has directed Defence Headquarters to dispatch one C-130 aircraft and two chartered aircraft to bring back 1,620 Nigerians.

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