The latest wave of xenophobic violence and attacks in South Africa has resulted in a growing exodus of Nigerians.
Around 600 Nigerians are due to be repatriated to Nigeria in the coming days, Nigeria’s consul general in Johannesburg has confirmed.
The first batch of 320 returnees are scheduled to arrive Nigeria today with additional flights expected to follow immediately.
Logistics for the evacuation will be provided by Air Peace, a Nigerian airline which has offered to airlift Nigerians.
Despite high-level discussions between governments of Nigeria and South Africa last week, xenophobia-fueled protests targeting foreign-owned businesses have continued in Johannesburg, suggesting foreigners are still at risk.
The police confirmed 12 people have been killed and 639 people had been arrested as of Monday after the latest wave of attacks as dozens of foreign-owned businesses are looted and destroyed.
At a press conference with business leaders on Monday, South Africa’s police minister Bheki Cele tried to deemphasize the role of xenophobia in the attacks saying the police were focused on criminality by all actors regardless of nationality.
At least eight of those killed have been confirmed to be South Africans and four others are believed to be foreign nationals.