5 January 2014

Central African Republic Crisis - Evacuee Delivers Twins On Arrival

Photo: UNHCR
Nigerian refugees (file photo).

The federal government has evacuated a total of 839 persons comprising Nigerians and citizens of neighbouring West African countries from Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic following the crisis that erupted in the country.

One of the evacuees, Mrs. Kalthum Yusuf, who was in the second batch was delivered of a set of twins immediately on arrival in Abuja at about 4.30 pm Saturdday.

The lucky mother of the twins, who is in her late 40s, THISDAY learnt, was aboard the chartered Arik aircraft, which conveyed the batch of evacuees from the war-torn country.

FG, which evacuated another batch of 474 persons yesterday, had commenced the evacuation from the troubled country on Friday, with the airlift of first batch of 365 persons. The evacuation is expected to continue as the federal government was said to have dispatched three jumbo jets to Bangui to bring the remaining people back home.

A source at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) told THISDAY at the weekend that the agency had, in collaboration with officials of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, so far documented about 2,000 persons ready to be brought back through the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja.

The NEMA Director of Planning, Research and Forecasting, Alhassan Nuhu, who represented the Director-General of the agency, said the evacuees would be temporarily accommodated at the Hajj Camp in the airport vicinity before all formalities are completed for their relocation to their various destinations.

At the airport to receive the returning Nigerians late Friday night were NEMA team led by Nuhu and the Permanent Secretary in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Mr. Martins Uhoimoihi.

THISDAY gathered that the Nigerian officials coordinating the rescue mission were facing some challenges identifying the country's citizens as most of them fleeing CAR don't have genuine travel documents.

It was learnt that even some of those who got on the Nigeria's rescue flight were discovered to be non-Nigerians, while others, mostly women, claimed that they were married to Nigerians. Officials of the Immigration Service were seen frisking and trying to sort out those who arrived at the Abuja airport but could not explain their origin.

Meanwhile, THISDAY checks have revealed that Yusuf, whose twins are two boys, was said to have gone into serious labour immediately the plane took off from Bangui in the early hours of yesterday. Efforts to speak with the mother of the twins was aborted as a Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) official said the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA), health officials were attending to her and the babies at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) clinic. Yusuf was later relocated to the Air Force Hospital some one hundred meters away from the airport.

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