Nigeria airlifts about 300 citizens from Israel

Wednesday October 11 2023

Passengers look at a departure board at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 7, 2023. PHOTO | AFP


Nigeria has airlifted more than 300 of its citizens back home after they fled to Jordan from Israel where they were on a Christian pilgrimage, Lagos state government said Tuesday.

Israel has launched a military campaign after Hamas militants carried out a surprise attack from Gaza at the weekend in a conflict that has already left hundreds dead and scores of Israelis kidnapped.

"I'm happy to announce that we have successfully airlifted and returned all three hundred and ten citizens who went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Israel." Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said on X, formerly Twitter.

The group was travelling from Bethlehem to Nazareth when they heard news of the attack in the south of Israel, said Bukola Adeleke, a special adviser on Christian affairs for Lagos and one of the group leaders.

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"We were afraid, and everybody wanted to go back to Nigeria, nobody wants to die," he told AFP after the group arrived early Tuesday.


With the war erupting, the group and the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims' Commission organised for them to travel by road to Jordan and take a chartered flight to Lagos.

"Their families were waiting for them at the airport... They waited until they saw their people," Adeleke said.

The group were part of a twice a year pilgrimage to religious sites organised by Lagos state government.

Africa's most populous nation is almost equally split between a predominantly Muslim north and mostly Christian south, and pilgrims travel overseas from both faiths.

The death toll from the war passed 3,000 on Tuesday, the fourth day of fierce fighting since Gaza-based Islamist militants launched their attack on Israel.