Paris, Aug 2 (EFE).- The first French plane carrying evacuees from Niger arrived at the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport with 262 people on board, including a dozen babies, early Wednesday.
The plane, an Airbus A330, is the first of the three aircrafts that France sent to Niger on Tuesday to start the evacuation of French and European citizens wishing to leave the African country following last week’s military coup.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna had earlier said that almost all the passengers on the flight were French while there were also some Portuguese, Belgian, Nigerian and Lebanese nationals on board, according to other official sources.
Some 600 French citizens have expressed their desire to leave Niger, a former French colony, following the military coup that ousted the West African country’s democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum on Jul. 26.
Citizens of several European countries have also expressed their desire to be evacuated, the French foreign ministry said.
The operation will continue until all those wishing to leave are evacuated, including French and European citizens as well as other foreign nationals who can enter France, sources from the chief of staff of the French armed forces told reporters on Tuesday.
The approximately 1,500 French soldiers who are currently stationed in Niger to support the country in the fight against jihadist terrorism are not scheduled to be evacuated, they added.
The decision to evacuate was taken by the French government after several hundred people gathered in front of the French embassy in the capital of Niger where they torched French flags and chanted anti-European slogans on Sunday.
However, the sources said that there were no French soldiers on the streets of Niamey and that the evacuees arrived at the airport by their own means.
The Crisis and Support Center of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, together with the Red Cross, has made arrangements to receive the evacuees, with temporary shelters for those who may need them. EFE