Hundreds of Nigerians flee South Africa amid xenophobic violence

Fani-Kayode

Logistics for the evacuation will be provided by Air Peace, a Nigerian airline which has offered to airlift Nigerians.

Some will leave on two flights on Wednesday, Nigeria's Consul General in Johannesburg told the BBC.

"I came here for something else but the place is packed and the matter can not be checked". It's not safe for me.

Nigerians queue at passport control at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

Busloads of Nigerians are being conveyed to the airport and more are expected to follow.

Dozens of citizens queued outside the country's consulate in Illovo this week hoping to get on the next plane out of South Africa.


Meanwhile, Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, commended the management of Air Peace for the successful evacuation of the first batch of willing Nigerians from Johannesburg, South Africa. Retaliatory attacks in Nigeria forced South African businesses to shut down for several days, and South Africa temporarily closed its embassy on safety fears.

Buthelezi was introducing a debate in the National Assembly on the recent incidents of violence across South Africans in which at least 12 people were killed, including 10 South Africans and two foreign nationals.

"Government continues to monitor the situation with a view to escalating the evacuation exercise should the situation deteriorate".

But there is also high unemployment in the country and some people feel foreigners are taking their jobs. Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh and Ethiopia topped the list of countries where people applied for asylum or refugee status in 2018.

It was not immediately clear how many people boarded the flight, but Nigeria's government said it estimated 313 people were on their way home.

The flare-up in violence directed against mainly African foreigners has been widely condemned by South Africa's neighbours and has caused a diplomatic dispute between Nigeria and South Africa, the continent's top two economies.

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