Nigeria evacuates 268 stranded nationals from China

Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja
Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

Nigeria has evacuated some of its stranded nationals from China.

The 268 evacuees on Saturday landed in Abuja, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said in a tweet.

“268 stranded Nigerians in China safely arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, 30th May 2020,” Mr Onyeama said.

Last month, amidst the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic in China, African nationals in China protested harassment from the Chinese government in several videos circulated on social media.

In the videos, Nigerians and other African nationals were reportedly subjected to forced evictions from their homes and arbitrary quarantine and mass coronavirus testing in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China.

The incident drew the ire of Nigerians on social media as an hashtag #ChinaMustExplain on Twitter called out the Chinese government for the maltreatment.

In response, Mr Onyeama said every single case would be followed robustly and compensation and damages will be done where required. He said the government would not compromise the dignity of Nigerians and the entire black race on the altar of economic cooperation with China.

Also, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who met the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, expressed displeasure over the matter.

The Chinese embassy, in a statement, said the reason behind the restrictions was because the Chinese government was ramping up measures in containing imported coronavirus cases.

It said Nigerians were restricted because many of them were just returning to China.

Mr Pingjian, in a separate address, insisted that all nationals were treated equally without differential treatment because “the Chinese government attach a great importance to the life and health of foreign nationals in China.”

Evacuation

Mr Onyeama said the new evacuees would go on a 14-day quarantine in line with the standards of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“All of them will go on the 14 days quarantine stipulated by,” Mr Onyeama said.

This is coming on the wheels of the temporary suspension of evacuation of stranded Nigerians abroad.

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Earlier in the week, Mr Onyeama said the decision is to allow the take-off of a new policy on evacuating Nigerians who are willing to return from other countries.

He said with the new policy, evacuees would no longer go into 14-day government monitored quarantine if they test negative from their countries of residence.

Explaining why the Nigerians were evacuated as against the new policy, Mr Onyeama’s spokesperson, Ferdinand Nwonye, said the evacuation was done to cut costs because “the aeroplane that took the Chinese medical team back to their base could not just come empty like that.”



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