New set of Nigerians, some 319 return from South Africa

LAGOS, Nigeria

A new set of 319 Nigerians arrived from South Africa as Abuja and other African nations intensified efforts to save their nationals from worsening xenophobic attacks in the rainbow nation, according to local media reports.

Their arrival came one week after some 178 Nigerians left South Africa following a new wave of attacks, straining diplomatic relations between the countries.

Nigerian officials say at least 1,004 citizens across South Africa have indicated that they want to return home and documentations to that effect are now being processed by the two countries, according to local media late Wednesday.

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chairman of the Nigeria diaspora commission, said the returnees would be profiled and assisted to settle down in the country.

“Efforts are being made to settle them. Once they have settled down, we will get their governors involved in the whole process,” she told reporters.

She said efforts are underway to repatriate Nigerians who want to leave South Africa, adding that they are still working on the flight schedules with the local officials and a commercial airline in Nigeria, which offered to airlift all the returnees at no cost.

The Nigerian parliament, for its part, has recommended the chairman of Air Peace Allen Onyema for national award for “his patriotism”.

Dozens of Nigerians have died in the xenophobic violence targeted at their businesses across South Africa. Abuja has recently accused Pretoria of not doing enough to protect Africans in the country, warning that it would no longer tolerate such violence.

The recent violence for the first time provoked retaliation in some Nigerian cities where young people spontaneously attacked offices of some South African businesses, including ShopRite and the telecom giant MTN, among others.

But police repelled the attacks with arrests amid warnings by the Nigerian government that it would not tolerate violence against non-citizens, including South Africans resident in the country.
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