Posted on Wed 11 Sep 2019, 09:20 AM

Nigeria's plan to repatriate at least 600 of its citizens living in South Africa after recent attacks in and around Johannesburg that targeted Nigerians and other African immigrants and left at least 10 people dead commences today with the first batch of about 340 Nigerians due for Lagos today.

The announcement, made by President Muhammadu Buhari  and Godwin Adama, the Nigerian consul general in Johannesburg, is the latest effort to respond to a conflict that has consumed the continent’s two largest economies and angered people across Africa.

“We have made arrangements for the immediate voluntary evacuation of all Nigerians in South Africa who are willing to return home,” Mr. Buhari said on Twitter, adding that he is very worried about “the recurring issue of xenophobia.”

“If nothing is done to stop it,” he added, “it could negatively affect the image and standing of South Africa as one of the leading countries in Africa.”

South Africans began attacking immigrants and shops owned by immigrants last week in the most recent eruption of anti-foreigner violence that has prompted widespread condemnation on the continent.

Among the events that spurred these latest riots was a strike by truck drivers meant to protest foreign workers.

South Africa is home to many immigrants, but its poorest citizens struggle to find employment and some South Africans have blamed competition by foreigners.

Violent attacks on outsiders, particularly those from other African nations, have become a major problem. Some assaults have been deadly.

In the recent spate of anti-immigrant protests, people burned cars, buildings and shops, and were seen carrying refrigerators and vending machines out of businesses.

Africans across the continent responded by boycotting South Africa. Pop stars canceled concerts. Madagascar and Zambia refused to send soccer teams for a match. Nigeria recalled its ambassador and pulled out of a major economic forum.


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