Nigeria begins evacuation of citizens in Yemen


Mohammad Sani-Sidi

Returnees recount tales of woe 

AS the crisis in the Republic of Yemen takes a frightening dimension, the Federal Government, through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), has commenced the evacuation of Nigerians from the country.

While receiving about three citizens at the international wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja, NEMA Director General, Mohammad Sani-Sidi, disclosed that about 58 Nigerians would be repatriated, 11 of whom would be arriving today.

In line with government’s directive to evacuate stranded Nigerians from the war-torn country, he said, the agency has coordinated with the Saudi Arabian Embassy, which informed that about 58 Nigerians were presently stranded in Yemen.

“The Nigerians have been waiting in Saudi Arabia but we were informed that the number of days given to evacuees to transit through Saudi Arabia has been exhausted, so we had to put them on board the available aircraft and bring them to Nigeria while other evacuees are been gathered,” he explained.

Represented by the Head of Mission Control Centre, Capt. Michael Igwe, Sani-Sidi noted that because of the closed border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, it has become difficult to evacuate Nigerians.

However, he assured that as soon as the Saudi Embassy gathers enough Nigerians, they would be repatriated. More so, “they have assured us that within the next one week, they would be able to gather as many Nigerians as possible to be evacuated to the country.”

Meanwhile, Igwe disclosed that the evacuees who had returned already had gone through medical check-up at the port health authority, certified okay, and would be handed over to the state liaison officers of Anambra, Kebbi and Kaduna states, they claimed to come from.

All three, young men in their mid 30s, claimed to have been in Yemen for two years playing football with Nadisauma Football Club but had struggled for survival since the war broke out in February.

One of them, Hamisu Yinusa from Kaduna State, told journalists at the airport that both foreigners and indigenes have feared for life since the war started, adding: “We thank God for our lives, we have been displaced from home since the past two weeks, we lost everything we had.

“When I left the capital city, Sana’a, I travelled to the Saudi Arabia border by road for six days and fed on only biscuit and water, given to us by the embassy.

I hope other Nigerians still stranded in Saudi Arabia return as soon as possible.” Meanwhile, they had not been paid for the past six months: “When we call the management they don’t pick our calls, some of them have even ran away from the country.

So, we are pleading with Nigeria to assist us to resettle into the society.” Another evacuee, Sani Mohammed Zaaradin from Kebbi, said he never prayed for his enemies to experience what he did while in Yemen but thanked God for being alive and happy to be back home.

However, Kebbi State liaison officer, Beatrus Shekwogaza, said that arrangement has been made to transport home the evacuees and hand them over to the appropriate security agency for proper monitoring, according to security report.

According to him, “this is because, due to where they are coming from, we will not just allow them to move freely without taking necessary measures to protect them from other terrorist attacks.”

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