Xenophobia: FG Extends Date for Evacuation of Nigerians in South Africa

Chinedu Eze
The federal government has deferred the date for the evacuation of Nigerians living in South Africa following the need to get travel certificate for many of them that do not have legal papers and others that have expired passports.

The evacuation may start from Monday, next week, as many of them who have indicated their interest to leave for home have registered at the Nigerian High Commission in Pretoria and its annex in Johannesburg.

The federal government, with the support of Nigeria’s major carrier, Air Peace, had scheduled to begin the evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa on September 6 following the ongoing xenophobic attacks in the country.

The Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, who confirmed the development in a statement on Friday, said the airline had already placed its Boeing 777 aircraft on standby since Thursday and was only awaiting the approval from the government.

He said: “The Air Peace flight to South Africa will take off from the Lagos Airport and also return back to Lagos. As earlier stated, the take-off could be Monday or Tuesday (September 9 or September 10).

“This is because the Nigerians in South Africa have to obtain travel certificates because many of them don’t have travel documents and their passports have since expired.

“Air Peace has placed its aircraft, Boeing 777 for the flight since September 3 but the Nigerian High Commission needed time to register the Nigerians billed to travel and they are already doing that in Johannesburg and Pretoria.”

Onyema described the attacks against Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa as unfortunate, especially with the alleged tacit support being given to the perpetrators by the authorities.

He therefore advised Nigerians without legal documents in South Africa to take advantage of the evacuation flight to return to Nigeria.

The federal government had earlier recalled its Ambassador to South Africa, Ambassador Kabiru Bala, and also pulled out of the World Economic Summit holding in Cape Town.

The government had also issued travel advice to Nigerians intending to visit South Africa due to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals.