The Nigerian footballer who fled in his shorts

The Nigerian footballer who fled in his shorts
The Nigerian footballer who fled in his shorts

Charles Collins (in white) in motion in the now-halted Sudanese league

Charles Collins was trying ahead to his subsequent match in the Sudan Premier League when preventing broke out in the nation on 15 April, turning town the place he lived right into a struggle zone.

The 28-year-old Nigerian footballer, who performs for Khartoum aspect Haidob en Nahud, mentioned he needed to go away all his possessions behind, fleeing in simply the black shorts he was carrying, when battles between the military and a strong paramilitary group reached his neighbourhood of the Sudanese capital.

He was amongst 396 Nigerians who flew again to Abuja from Egypt this week, after escaping from Sudan in what many described as a harmful journey lasting a number of days.

“I’m coming again residence with simply this, simply my blanket,” he informed the BBC at Abuja’s worldwide airport, swivelling to disclose a black backpack.

“I ran out of my home carrying simply shorts, it was a horrible expertise,” he mentioned.

Haidob, who have been solely promoted to the premier division this season, have been on track to qualify for the Caf Confederations Cup – Africa’s second most prestigious competitors.

The group misplaced 1-0 to Kober SC Bhari only a week earlier than preventing began however remained in fourth positioned in the now-halted league.

However after what he went by way of, Collins doesn’t see himself going again to Sudan to proceed his profession.

A handful of footballers from Nigeria’s top-flight division have transferred to Sudan through the years, discovering the highest golf equipment that play in continental competitions enticing.

‘It was a horrible expertise’

Collins, who has been in Sudan for three-and-a-half years after arriving from Mauritius membership Richie Moore Rovers, mentioned he misplaced every little thing he owned in the nation, together with $20,000 (£16,000) money.

He was combining soccer with some enterprise on the aspect, importing hair extensions into the nation on the market and had taken supply of a cargo eight days earlier than the preventing broke out, which is now misplaced.

“There are lots of who got here again with nothing. No less than I got here again with a blanket,” he mentioned on arrival in Abuja, pointing to a person with a black polythene bag.

“He got here again with simply his meals.”

Smoke rising into the sky

Combating has continued in the Sudanese capital regardless of each side agreeing a ceasefire

The evacuees have been airlifted in two planes – one from Nigerian industrial provider Air Peace and a navy plane – from Aswan in neighbouring Egypt. They’d been stranded for days on the Egyptian border due to issues with their visas.

Earlier than the preventing broke out, greater than 5,000 Nigerians have been believed to reside in Sudan, principally college students. The nation is legendary for its Islamic Research and Classical Arabic, which many Nigerians have been learning.

Its reasonably priced pharmacy and medication schools have been additionally fashionable with Nigerians.

There have been joyous scenes at Abuja’s airport because the evacuees have been met by members of the family and authorities officers.

Nevertheless, the trauma continues to be recent.

“It was a horrible expertise all through the journey,” Zainab Abdulqadir, a scholar, informed the BBC.

She mentioned that her leg was swollen from sitting all evening in a automotive as they escaped Sudan with out water or meals.

“It was a state of affairs of maximum stress, concern and instability,” she mentioned.

Abdulazez Muiza, a scholar on the Africa Worldwide College in Khartoum, which is fashionable with Nigerians, mentioned she mistook the primary gunshots for electrical sparks on the day preventing began.

“It was so irritating, a few of us have been pregnant… however we thank God that we’re again residence.”

Ms Muiza, a first-year scholar, mentioned she hopes to return to Sudan when the preventing is over.

Sudan’s ambassador to Nigeria, Muhammad Yusuf, has additionally pleaded with Nigerians coming back from the conflict-hit nation to contemplate returning as soon as peace returns.

People waiting in an airport lounge

A lot of the Nigerian college students in Sudan have been learning medication or Classical Arabic

He requested them to contemplate Sudan as their second nation, expressing optimism that the preventing could be managed quickly.

“I am very sorry for what is occurring there however on the similar time I am very comfortable to have these evacuees coming from Sudan protected, no life is misplaced,” he was quoted by the Cable newspaper as saying.

Sadiya Farouk, the minister of humanitarian affairs and catastrophe administration, mentioned every returnee could be given $200 (£160) to allow them to settle again residence.

Nigeria had deployed 40 luxurious buses to take the evacuees to Egypt from the place they could possibly be airlifted again residence.

However it’s not clear how most of the 5,000 college students will probably be evacuated to Nigeria, as some had already made their very own plans, crossing into neighbouring nations.

Most of the student-evacuees mentioned they’d take into account enrolling in Nigerian universities to proceed their schooling, however Collins doesn’t have that luxurious.

“I do not know what I’m going to do,” he mentioned.

“However I’m comfortable to be again, it was a horrible expertise.”

Extra reporting by Joseph Jegede in Abuja

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