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The Nigerian Government is Evacuating its Citizens from South Africa
President Buhari has arranged free flights for Nigerians wanting to return home.
Amid the violent xenophobic attacks and looting of shops owned by African foreign nationals in South Africa over the past week, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has called for the "immediate voluntary evacuation" of Nigerian citizens. IOL reports that President Buhari called for the evacuation yesterday and that private Nigerian airline, Air Peace, has offered to provide free flights to Nigerians who would like to return home. The airline will be operating two Boeing 777 aircraft and will leave Lagos later today with the intention of returning back to Nigeria with evacuees tomorrow.
In the wake of South Africa's latest xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg, the Nigerian government sent a special envoy last week to meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa and talk about Nigeria's growing concerns over the treatment of Nigerian citizens residing in South Africa. According to the BBC, the Nigerian government stressed that the South African government needed to "take visible measures t stop violence against citizens of brotherly nations." While President Ramaphosa has condemned the xenophobic violence and called for calm, it has done little to quell the recurrent attacks in what has now become an international diplomatic crisis.
The head of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri, said that at least 600 Nigerians have signed up to return home. Dabiri added that Nigerians who are directly affected by the xenophobic attacks and are currently in harm's way will be able to return home. She also called for the South African government to compensate those who have been victims of the violence.
Back in Nigeria, the South African embassy as well as businesses including MTN, Pep, MutiChoice and Shoprite, temporarily closed shop amid attacks by angry Nigerian citizens who were responding to the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.