In accordance with efforts of different governments around the world to evacuate their citizens amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, the Nigerian Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama has confirmed that Nigerian government has finalized arrangements for the evacuation of Nigerians who have been stranded around the world; especially in the USA, UK, Europe and the Asian Region. The Minister made this disclosure at the COVID-19 PTF daily briefing.
While fielding questions on the evacuation of stranded Nigerians abroad, Amb. Onyeama explained that, “On Wednesday, 6th May, 2020, we will start the process of repatriating our Nationals from outside the country with Emirates Airline from UAE to Lagos. This will be followed by British Airways flight on Saturday, 8th May, 2020 from London to Lagos. The evacuees will be on mandatory quarantine in hotels and will be monitored for 14 days”.
The Minister continued, “There are almost 4,000 Nigerians wishing to come back home. There are various constraints on us, the biggest one is where to quarantine them upon arrival. So we will have to do it in batches”.
“We have engaged with our Missions in the US and agreed to use the Ethiopian Airlines to bring back significant numbers of Nigerians home. There are large numbers of Nigerians in China who need to come back. We know the real financial challenges that a lot of our compatriot brothers and sisters are facing, so the Nigerian Government with the kind support of the Chairman of the #PTFCOVID19, Mr. Boss Mustapha is engaging with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to see to what extent the government can also subsidise and make the financial burden that these evacuees have to face as light as possible”.
To facilitate the evacuation process, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had earlier instructed all the Nigerian consulates to collate the names of Nigerians who are interested in coming back home. The Minister further urged Nigerians resident in Diaspora to remain in their places of abode as medical professionals said they stand a higher risk of contracting the virus while traveling.