A Niger Air Force DC-5 left Abidjan Airport on Monday (November 9), carrying 82 former Biafran children who have been living in the Ivory Coast since the Nigerian Civil War.
A Niger Air Force DC-5 left Abidjan Airport on Monday (November 9), carrying 82 former Biafran children who have been living in the Ivory Coast since the Nigerian Civil War. They are the first of the large number who will be repatriated back to Eastern Nigeria in the next few weeks under the auspices of the International Red Cross.
The children, wearing special identity tags with photographs on them and carrying their few personal belongings wrapped in pink bed-sheets, were escorted and assisted by Red Cross officials and members of the Ivorien police.
Arrangements for the repatriation were made last month by Price Sadruddin Aga Khan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, after visiting refugee centres in the Ivory Coast and Gabon.
Among the Red Cross workers who were at the airport to see the children off, some wept unashamedly as they bade farewell to the children they have nursed back to the health after their ordeal in the Nigerian conflict. It is estimated that some 900 Ibo refugees are still in the Ivory Coast, and 4,000 in Gabon -- but it is hoped that all with be repatriated, and already many of the parents have been found and will soon be reunited with their children.