“No place like home,” Nigerian says as he flees South Africa

As over 300 Nigerian returnees to return evacuated from South Africa today

The Federal government has today September 11th, evacuated the first batch of Nigerian returnees from South Africa.

The 320 passengers, who are among over 600 Nigerians to be airlifted by Air Peace Airlines, would have arrived the Murtala Muhamed International Airport, Ikeja  this morning.

Confirming this development, the Nigerian Consul-General, Godwin Adama, said their evacuation followed the conclusion of their documentation in the aftermath of the recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals in South Africa.

“We are documenting people through filling of relevant forms with information such as place of birth, state of origin, local government areas. We also check nationality and discourage wives with different nationalities to avoid bringing in other nationals. We equally discourage those wanting to take advantage of the flight.” he said

The Consul-General, added that the second batch will leave South Africa tomorrow September 12th.

“The manifest for the first flight is ready and we are working on the next flight. The two missions are working together to make a success of the evacuation. Nigerians will be conveyed in buses from the two missions to the airport at early hours of the morning to ensure smooth operations.” he said

Local South African mobs, mostly in Johannesburg, had commenced a vandalization and looting spree for much of last week, targeting foreign-owned businesses in attacks that were tinged with xenophobic sentiments.

At least 12 people were killed, two of whom were unidentified foreigners.

Although no Nigerian life was lost, the conflict has created diplomatic tensions between Nigeria and South Africa, especially since Nigerians have been killed in previous xenophobic attacks and were particularly targeted in the recent wave of violence.

When the Nigerian government offered to evacuate its citizens from South Africa last week, over 600 expressed interest to return.

The evacuation exercise commenced on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 as busloads of Nigerians were conveyed to the O.R. Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg.

While speaking to eNCA, a South African television news network, at the airport, a Nigerian man said he was leaving because the country is hostile to foreigners.

“I decided to leave because I value my life more than anything else because here is very hostile now. It’s not safe for me.

“I lost a lot of things. I don’t want to lose my life,” he said.

He also said he wouldn’t consider returning to South Africa ever again because the attacks might continue.

Another Nigerian at the airport said he could not continue to stay in a country where his life and property are not safe.

“To me, the way they treat other African people is unjustified. When your life is not safe in a country, the best thing you can do is to go back to your own country. No place like home,” he said.

At least 320 Nigerians are expected to leave South Africa on Wednesday for a Lagos-bound flight on an aircraft provided by Air Peace Airlines free of charge.



Video source: Heidi Giokos

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