BEVERLY HILLS, September 16, (THEWILL) – No fewer than 319 Nigerians will be evacuated from South Africa on Tuesday.
The PUNCH learnt on Sunday that arrangements for the evacuation would be tidier than the previous one, which was done on Wednesday.
The Federal Government had 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 with The PUNCH on the telephone on Sunday, the Chairman, Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission, 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.
Meanwhile, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, on Sunday said the airline was ready to evacuate more Nigerians as long as they were willing to return from South Africa.
Onyema said the exercise would continue as soon as the airline received signal from the Nigerian High Commission.
According to him, the report that the airline has suspended the evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa is not true.
Onyema said, “Air Peace will bring back to our country all those Nigerians who are willing to return and we will continue to bring them back until the last evacuee is taken out of South Africa.
“I learnt from the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa that about 1,000 Nigerians are willing to return home. So what Air Peace has agreed with the commission is that when it finishes with the documentation, settled with immigration, then it will notify Air Peace, which will deploy aircraft to bring them back.”