Pretoria [South Africa], Sep 11 (ANI): More than 600 Nigerians began returning to their homeland following a wave of deadly xenophobic attacks in South Africa, media reported.
Private Nigerian airline Air Peace volunteered to fly people for free back to the commercial capital Lagos. At least 320 Nigerians were expected to fly out on Wednesday, while a second flight departs on Thursday, Al Jazeera reported.
As many as 640 Nigerians have signed up to return home.
This comes after riots in Pretoria and Johannesburg claimed at least 12 lives as 1,000 foreign-owned businesses were targeted. This sparked an international outcry and calls for a boycott of South Africa.
Moreover, around 700 people from other countries including Zimbabwe and Malawi sought refuge in community centres due to the ongoing situation in the country.
Subsequently, Mozambique and Zimbabwe were also considering some sort of repatriation of their nationals.
According to Minister of Police Bheki Cele, the police have arrested at least 653 people, mostly South Africans, but some foreigners as well, in connection with the latest attacks.
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to visit South Africa next month to discuss the violence and seek a solution. (ANI)