Published: Thu, September 12, 2019

South Africa: Nigeria to repatriate 600 citizens amid violence

South Africa: Nigeria to repatriate 600 citizens amid violence

Nigeria began repatriating more than 600 of its citizens from South Africa following a wave of deadly xenophobic attacks that frayed relations among neighbouring nations.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will visit SA next month to address the attacks and seek a solution.

Commercial Nigerian airline, Air Peace, says it plans to operate two flights with Boeing 777 aircraft for the job of evacuating as many Nigerians as possible.

Meanwhile, previously reported that officials of the South African government had arrested a Nigerian who was leaving the country.

"On Sunday, I didn't come to the shop because I was very scared". It's not safe for me.

With their luggage packed and wrapped with airport suitcase plastic still visible, most of the returnees had children.

Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo said government now does not have exact figures of Zimbabweans in South Africa and will be concentrating efforts on the 171 who have come forward.

Another Nigerian bemoaned the incidents that led to deaths, looting and violent attacks: "They are just after robbing, stealing, stealing from us, we're black, we are not telling them to steal from us, they steal from us, we are ok but what they (South Africans) are doing to us is not sharp, it's not sharp bossa".

Moyo added that Harare would "escalate" the evacuation if the situation deteriorated. Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh and Ethiopia topped the list of countries where people applied for asylum or refugee status in 2018.

About 187 Nigerians who were evacuated from South Africa have landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that initially, 313 Nigerians were expected but due to a delay in the process of checking in and clearance by immigration, only 178 were confirmed on board and ready to depart for Lagos.

"We were expecting 317 but from the information we have 189 are on board", said Nigeria's minister for diaspora affairs Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

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