Nigerian nationals evacuated from South Africa

Air Peace

At least 12 people have been killed since the start of the month in a surge in attacks targeting foreign-owned businesses in and around South Africa's largest city.

South Africa has become a magnet for migrants from other parts of Africa as it has one of the continent's biggest and most developed economies.

With diplomatic ties between Nigeria and South Africa now hanging by a sagging, loose thread in the wake of the attacks and reprisals back in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria declared that his government was going to be evacuating its nationals who want to return home.

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.

A riot police officer throws a teargas canister as looters make off with goods from a store in Germiston, east of Johannesburg on September 3. A private airline volunteered to airlift the fleeing nationals.

He thanked the Nigerian government and the High Commission in South Africa for their assistance.

"The ANC will also use the opportunity to clarify the parties on the recent acts of violence in South Africa which have largely been labelled by the media as xenophobic attacks", ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said.

Police have arrested 653 people in connection with the attacks, mostly South African but including foreigners, police minister Bheki Cele said. Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh and Ethiopia topped the list of countries where people applied for asylum or refugee status in 2018.

Retaliatory attacks in Nigeria forced South African businesses to shut doors for several days, and South Africa temporarily closed its embassy on safety fears.

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