Air Peace to evacuate more 319 Nigerians from South Africa

By AdvocateNews on 16/09/2019

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…as Ramaphosa sends envoys to Abuja

About 319 Nigerians will be evacuated from South Africa on Tuesday via the aircraft donated by Air Peace Airlines

The airline in conjunction with the Federal Government on Wednesday evacuated 187 Nigerians from South Africa following xenophobic attacks by its citizens on Africans.

The  Wednesday flight was delayed by hitches introduced by South African officials, who insisted that some of the evacuated  Nigerians  did not have travel documents.

The 187 returnees were the first batch of the 640 Nigerians, who registered for evacuation following the xenophobic attacks. They arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos at 9:34pm on Wednesday.

In an interview on Sunday, the Chairman, Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NIDC), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, explained that the list of passengers was being updated.

She said that the necessary travel documents would be given to the intending returnees and other immigration issues addressed to ensure a smooth evacuation process.

She noted, “We are still looking at 319.  We have 319 registered for the next flight , but the list is still being updated. For the flight, we are looking at Tuesday or Wednesday so that proper documentation would be done. We don’t want a situation where the plane will return half-empty with few passengers.”

When contacted, the Consul-General, Nigerian High Commission in South Africa, Godwin Adama, explained that he was still compiling the list, noting that he could not speak immediately.

The chairman, Air Peace Airlines, Allen Onyema, had promised to bring home from South Africa every Nigerian willing to make the move.

“We are waiting for the Nigerian High Commission to inform us of the next move. I have enough pilots to get onto the aircraft and go back to South Africa.

“We are ready to evacuate every Nigerian, to the last, and free of charge too, so that we can encourage other Nigerians to always look at ourselves as one nation, telling others that irrespective of our differences, nobody can bend us, nobody from outside can separate us”, the airline boss promised last Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Sunday sent three officials to President Muhammadu Buhari and heads of six other African countries to deliver messages of solidarity to them over the xenophobic attacks in his country.

A statement on the verified twitter page of the Presidency of South Africa, @PresidencyZA, on Sunday said the team, comprising Mr Jeff Radebe, Ambassador Kingsley Mmabolo and Dr Khulu Mbatha, would also visit Niger Republic, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

The statement noted that the envoys had begun their assignment on Saturday and had departed South Africa to deliver the messages.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, in a statement on Sunday, stated, “A team of special envoys appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa  began their assignment yesterday, September 14, 2019, and departed South Africa to deliver messages of solidarity to several heads of state and government across Africa.

“The special envoys will deliver a message from President Ramaphosa regarding the incidents of violence that recently erupted in some parts South Africa, which have manifested in attacks on foreign nationals and destruction of property.

“The special envoys are tasked with reassuring fellow African countries that South Africa is committed to the ideals of pan-African unity and solidarity. The special envoys will also reaffirm South Africa’s commitment to the rule of law.”

The latest step by the South African President on the xenophobic attacks in his country came barely one day after he was booed in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, when he was giving a speech at the funeral of the former President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe.

At the funeral, which was held on Saturday, Ramaphosa, whose condolence speech was interrupted by jeers from the crowd, apologised for the attacks in his country.

“I stand before you as a fellow African to express my regret and apologise for what has happened in our country,” he said after one of the organisers tried to calm the crowd.

He, however, insisted that South Africans were not xenophobic and that the country was making efforts to deal with the causes of the violence.

Posted 16/09/2019 06:51:16 AM

 

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