Rescue Flight Brings 206 Israelis Home from Nigeria

YERUSHALAYIM -
A man pushes his luggage during an evacuation of Israeli nationals, as Nigerian authorities try to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Abuja, Nigeria March 29, 2020. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

The Israeli Foreign Ministry’s effort to help Israeli citizens abroad to return home while some travel windows remain open yielded a rescue flight carrying 206 travelers, employees of Israeli companies and their families that departed from Abuja, Nigeria on Sunday afternoon., The Jerusalem Post reported.

The flight was organized by the Israeli Embassy in Nigeria, as the government there and in neighboring countries were closing their borders and airports.

It was the first direct flight from Nigeria to Israel, overflying Chad, Sudan and Egypt in the shortest route possible to Israel.

The carrier, Air Peace, had planned to start direct commercial flights from Nigeria to Israel in March this year, but the pandemic changed that.

The passengers, who boarded from two different airports, one in Lagos and one in Abuja, were joined by four Israelis who arrived from Abidjan on a private flight organized by the Israeli Embassy in the Ivory Coast, the Post said.

The Nigeria flight was the latest in operations which have rescued thousands of Israelis stranded in various countries, including Peru, Colombia, Ukraine, Russia and many others.

Early on Friday morning, an El Al plane left Costa Rica with 150 Israelis who were traveling in Central America.

On Thursday, El Al said will be shutting down all commercial flights coming in to Ben Gurion Airport. But it would continue to help with the rescue flights.