The United States of America has helped 997 Americans return home to reunite with family and friends during this time of unprecedented challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a statement by the US Mission in Nigeria on Thursday has said.
The statement said from April 6 to 8, three US Consulate-organised chartered flights operated by Delta Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines repatriated 850 American citizens from the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos to the United States.
It said this was in addition to the 147 US citizens who departed Abuja on April 4.
These repatriation flights were made possible by a tremendous effort by the US Consulate team and great cooperation from Nigerian partners, including the Ministry of Aviation, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Lagos State Government, the statement said.
It added: “The State Department’s effort to bring Americans home during the COVID-19 pandemic has required a remarkable diplomatic and logistical effort. As of April 8, 2020, the Department of State has coordinated the repatriation of 50,339 Americans from 94 countries since January 29, 2020.”
The statement said the the US Consul General in Nigeria, Claire Pierangelo, noted that in times of emergency, the US Department of State has no greater priority than the safety and security of the country’s citizens overseas.
Pierangelo was quoted as having said: “This has been three weeks in the making.
“We had more than 50 people working on this on a daily basis to make sure that we can find the Americans, get the planes, secure flight clearances for the planes to land here and also ensure safe passage of the Americans traveling to the airport since the city is on lockdown.
“It was an enormous effort and I am incredibly proud of my team.
“We appreciate all the help from our Nigerian partners.
“We couldn’t have done this without them.”
Pierangelo noted that US Mission remains committed to working closely with the Government of Nigeria and the various health authorities to keep everyone healthy and safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The US Government has pledged more than $7 million in health and humanitarian funding to Nigeria in response to the pandemic that will go toward risk communication, water and sanitation activities, infection prevention and coordination.
This assistance joins more than $5.2 billion in health assistance and more than $8.1 billion in total assistance for Nigeria over the past 20 years.
The United States is providing nearly $274 million to help dozens of countries to combat the novel coronavirus, furthering America’s commitment to humanitarian assistance and global health.
The statement added that US citizens who remain in Nigeria seeking COVID-19 information are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Programme at step.state.gov and check the US Mission Nigeria website and social media handles for messages and updates.