Almost 200 Nigerians repatriated from South Africa

Thursday September 12 2019

Nigerians repatriated from South Africa.

A man, among a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence, recites the national anthem after arriving in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. Almost 200 Nigerian migrants were repatriated from South Africa on September 11 following a wave of xenophobic violence that swept through the country and sparked sharp exchanges between the two countries. PHOTO | PIUS UTOMI EKPEI | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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Lagos,

Almost 200 Nigerian migrants were repatriated from South Africa on Wednesday following a wave of xenophobic violence that swept through the country and sparked sharp exchanges between the two countries.

A flight carrying 189 Nigerians landed in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, with some of those on board punching the air and singing their national anthem while waving pictures of burnt shops.

"I ran for my life, they would have killed me," said Samson Aliyu, a clothes seller who lived in South Africa for two years.

"They burnt my shop, everything," he added.

Air Peace flight attendants hold placards to denounce xenophobia as the first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa arrives in Lagos, on September 11, 2019.

Air Peace flight attendants hold placards to denounce xenophobia as the first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa arrives in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. PHOTO | PIUS UTOMI EKPEI | AFP

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More than 600 Nigerians are expected to return from South Africa this week, the Nigerian government has said.

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

"There was about a five hour delay courtesy of the South African authorities who actually frustrated this return of Nigerians," she said, blaming authorities in Johannesburg for failing to help Nigerians without travel documents.

"There was a lot of frustration in getting them back home but we're glad that they will be here," she added.

Nigerians repatriated from South Africa.

A family, among a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence, sits together after arriving in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. PHOTO | PIUS UTOMI EKPEI | AFP

Leading the returnees in singing the national anthem, Dabiri-Erewa promised the government would provide financial support.

Johannesburg and surrounding areas were rocked by a series of deadly attacks on foreigners last week, including many directed against Nigerian-owned businesses and properties.

At least 10 people were killed in the violence and hundreds of shops destroyed while more than 420 people were arrested.

A man waves as he disembarks from a plane as a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa arrives in Lagos, on September 11, 2019.

A man waves as he disembarks from a plane as a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa arrives in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. PHOTO | PIUS UTOMI EKPEI | AFP

No Nigerians were killed but the violence led to condemnation across Africa, particularly in Nigeria, fuelling diplomatic tensions between the continent's two leading nations.

The violence also prompted reprisal attacks against South African firms in Nigeria and the temporary closing of South Africa's diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja.

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