COVID-19: Saudi Arabia plans to airlift over 11,000 stranded Nigerians – Official

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Saudi Arabia has identified about 11,600 Nigerians reportedly stranded in the country, many due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease, and is making plans to airlift them back home, an official has said.

The official of the Nigerian embassy, who prefers not to be named by the online publication said a few weeks ago Saudi Arabia sent its decision in a letter addressed to the embassy.

According to the source, Saudis explained that the list includes Nigerians who had visited the country for lesser hajj and were held up by the restriction of movement introduced by the authorities as containment measures.

Geoffrey Onyeama, the minister of foreign affairs, who confirmed the development on Tuesday, 12 May said Nigeria’s logistics challenge has been responsible for the delay in the repatriation of Nigerians.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Slash your budget, expenses to heal ailing economy, Atiku tells Buhari, Osinbajo

Onyeama speaking after the daily COVID-19 Presidential Task Force media briefing noted that some of the stranded Nigerians would have landed about a week ago, but could not.

He explained that Nigeria does not have enough facilities to accommodate them all for the 14-day quarantine period.

He said: “We are aware of this. In fact, they wanted to land last week, but they couldn’t because there was no arrangement to receive them.”

Recall that the minister of foreign affairs said almost 4,000 Nigerians across the world are wishing to come back home. He made this known during the daily briefing by the presidential task force on Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Monday, 4 May.

Onyeama spoke in response to questions about the commencement of evacuating Nigerians from abroad. He said the first batch of evacuation will commence on Wednesday, 6 May from the United Arab Emirates to Lagos while the second batch will be on Saturday, May from London to Lagos.

previously reported that two hundred and fifty-six (256) Nigerians yesterday night, 6 May arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, from the United Arab Emirate.

The minister of foreign affairs disclosed this via his official Twitter handle at 8.49 pm yesterday, May 6.

“The flight conveying 256 Nigerians evacuated from Dubai has landed Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos,” the minister tweeted.

In other news, the commissioner for health in Lagos, Akin Abayomi, on Tuesday, 12, May confirmed that a Nigerian returnee from Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) is dead.

On his verified Twitter handle Abayomi disclosed that the Nigerian, a male of 32 years old, died of complications from coronavirus.

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