Nigerian students trapped in war-torn Sudan are eager to know their fate following a nod by the Sudan’s de facto president and commander-in-chief of the army, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, to the evacuation of citizens and diplomatic representatives from the embattled country.
The Nigerian government had said it was impossible to evacuate the students as result of bombings in some airports in the troubled nation.
“The Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa has said while the Nigerian Mission in Sudan and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), have put in place arrangements to evacuate Nigerian students and other Nigerian citizens stranded in Sudan, the tensed situation makes it gravely risky and impossible for any flights at this point in time., noting that Aircrafts parked at the Airport in the country were burnt yesterday morning,” a statement on Friday by NIDCOM had said.
However, the students will be hoping the government may change its decision following the latest development.
An army spokesman said in a statement on Saturday that the United States, Britain, France and China would begin evacuating from the capital Khartoum “in the coming hours” using military transport aircraft.
Al-Burhan has pledged to “facilitate and guarantee” the evacuation and to provide the countries with “the necessary support to ensure this,” the spokesman said.
A Saudi Arabian delegation has already been evacuated from the eastern city of Port Sudan, he said, adding that a Jordanian delegation was also to be flown out of Port Sudan later on Saturday.
The army was in control of all airports in the country except those in Khartoum and the town of Njala in the South Dafur region, al-Burhan told Arabic television station Al-Arabiya.
The country’s de facto president said he remained in control of the army and would only let his rival and former deputy Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, the leader of the powerful paramilitary group RSF, get away “in a coffin.”
Fighting broke out in Sudan about a week ago between the country’s two most powerful generals and their respective military units.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), at least 413 people have lost their lives and more than 3,500 have been injured since the fighting began.
The airport in the capital Khartoum has been at the centre of the fighting and was therefore inaccessible. Diplomats have been trying for days to secure a resilient ceasefire for the evacuation of foreign citizens.
After a brief ceasefire on Friday due to the Muslim Eid al-Fitr celebrations that mark the end of Ramadan, fighting continued overnight.
On Saturday morning, Khartoum was bombed again, a reporter at the scene told dpa. Shots rang out in the city, and eyewitnesses writing on Twitter reported explosions in the capital.
The ceasefire largely held during the night, the reporter said. There were only “sporadic clashes.”
The US embassy in Khartoum said on Saturday that the ongoing fighting and closure of the airport in the capital made it currently impossible to evacuate U.S. citizens.
The embassy continues to closely monitor the situation in Khartoum and surrounding areas, it said in a statement.
Apart from the fighting between the rival forces, there are currently reports of attacks, home invasions and looting.
In addition, the embassy has received incomplete information about convoys travelling from Khartoum towards Port Sudan, it said.
It added that it was not in a position to support convoys, meaning passengers travelled at their own risk, according to the statement.
According to the German Defence Ministry, the country’s armed forces, or Bundeswehr, are preparing for a new attempt to evacuate German citizens.
On Wednesday, an attempt at a diplomatic evacuation with air force planes had been aborted.