Nigeria will repatriate about 600 citizens from South Africa this week following a wave of xenophobic violence that caused tensions between the countries, a Nigerian diplomat said Monday.
South Africa’s financial capital Johannesburg and surrounding areas were rocked by a surge of deadly attacks against foreigners this week, many directed against Nigerian-owned businesses and properties.
“They are about 600 now” due to be flown back, Godwin Adamu, Nigerian Consul General in Johannesburg, told AFP.
Nigerian airline “Air Peace is beginning the airlift by Wednesday, the first flight with 320 Nigerians,” he said. “We will have another one immediately after that.”
At least 12 people were killed in the violence and hundreds of shops destroyed.
Foreign workers are often victims of anti-immigrant sentiment in South Africa – the continent’s second biggest economy after Nigeria – where they compete against locals for jobs, particularly in low-skilled industries.
Update: 12 September 2019
A flight from Johannesburg to Lagos that was arranged to evacuate Nigerians who fear xenophobic attacks in SA was delayed on 11 September, because of problems experienced at check-in.
Prince Ben Okoli, president of the Nigerian Citizens Association SA, said the chartered flight by Nigerian airline Air Peace was due to leave with the first batch of Nigerians at 9.10am on Wednesday.
“However, a number of people were singled out by immigration as they were about to board the flight. This led to a delay in the flight leaving SA. The Nigerian foreign affairs ministry said on Wednesday that 649 Nigerian nationals had registered with Nigerian missions in SA for the free flight offer.
Okoli said the consulate-general had promised to issue travel documents free of charge to those who were without valid documents after they had been authenticated by Nigerian authorities to be from that country.
He said that following the maiden flight out of Johannesburg, other flights would be arranged to take “in distress” Nigerians out of SA.
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