Charles Collins was trying ahead to his subsequent match within the Sudan Premier League when preventing broke out within the nation on 15 April, turning town the place he lived right into a warfare zone.
The 28-year-old Nigerian footballer, who performs for Khartoum aspect Haidob en Nahud, mentioned he needed to depart 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 house with simply this, simply my blanket,” he advised 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 heading in the right direction to qualify for the Caf Confederations Cup – Africa’s second most prestigious competitors.
The workforce misplaced 1-0 to Kober SC Bhari only a week earlier than preventing began however remained in fourth positioned within the now-halted league.
However after what he went by means 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 over time, discovering the highest golf equipment that play in continental competitions engaging.
‘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 all the things he owned within 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 a lot of who got here again with nothing. At the least 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.”
The evacuees have been airlifted in two planes – one from Nigerian industrial provider Air Peace and a navy plane – from Aswan in neighbouring Egypt. That they had 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, largely college students. The nation is legendary for its Islamic Research and Classical Arabic, which many Nigerians have been learning.
Its inexpensive pharmacy and drugs schools have been additionally fashionable with Nigerians.
There have been joyous scenes at Abuja’s airport because the evacuees have been met by relations and authorities officers.
Nonetheless, the trauma continues to be contemporary.
“It was a horrible expertise all through the journey,” Zainab Abdulqadir, a scholar, advised the BBC.
She mentioned that her leg was swollen from sitting all evening in a automobile as they escaped Sudan with out water or meals.
“It was a scenario 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 nerve-racking, a few of us have been pregnant… however we thank God that we’re again house.”
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 think about returning as soon as peace returns.
He requested them to think about Sudan as their second nation, expressing optimism that the preventing could be managed quickly.
“I am very sorry for what is going on there however on the identical time I am very completely happy 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 house.
Nigeria had deployed 40 luxurious buses to take the evacuees to Egypt from the place they could possibly be airlifted again house.
However it isn’t clear how lots of the 5,000 college students can be evacuated to Nigeria, as some had already made their very own plans, crossing into neighbouring international locations.
Lots of the student-evacuees mentioned they might contemplate enrolling in Nigerian universities to proceed their training, however Collins doesn’t have that luxurious.
“I do not know what I’m going to do,” he mentioned.
“However I’m completely happy to be again, it was a horrible expertise.”
Extra reporting by Joseph Jegede in Abuja