A repatriation flight carrying 376 US citizens has departed Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, for Washington Dulles International Airport.
According to the US consulate in Nigeria, the chartered flight operated by Ethiopian Airlines departed at 5:25pm Nigerian time.
The consulate said it is the first in a series of repatriation flights for American citizens out of Lagos, adding that more flights would depart Lagos within the next few days.
“Priority on repatriation flights is given to the elderly, individuals with serious health issues, unaccompanied minors, pregnant women, and physically challenged citizens,” the consulate said in a statement.
“Before boarding, local health authorities conducted temperature checks on all of the passengers. Following the closure of Nigerian airports to all international commercial flights, many Americans have contacted the U.S. Mission requesting assistance to return home.”
Gabriel Idigo, one of the evacuees, reportedly expressed gratitude to the US government for rendering assistance to citizens “stranded in Nigeria”.
“I have been here (Nigeria) for a while. I was stuck in the hotel for about two weeks. All my money had been depleted. I thank the U.S. government for coming to our aid. I am glad to be going home. From Washington Dulles International Airport, I hope to fly to Los Angeles where I live,” he reportedly said.
As of April 5, 2020, the US authorities have coordinated the repatriation of 43,116 Americans from 78 countries.
Claire Pierangelo, consul general, said the repatriation flights represent a major effort by the US consulate in Lagos, with “excellent cooperation from the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Lagos State Government, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria.”
“In times of emergency, the first priority of the Department of State is the safety of American citizens overseas. For that reason, throughout the world, we are working to ensure that Americans who want to return home are able to get home.” he said.
“We hope to get about 1, 000 Americans out of Lagos this week alone.”
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