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Xenophobia: Nigeria Soft-Pedals as Buhari Plans Trip to South Africa

President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to pay a state visit to South Africa in October, the South African presidency said Saturday, after a spate of xenophobic violence in Johannesburg caused tensions between the countries.

South Africa’s financial capital and surrounding areas were rocked by a surge of deadly attacks against foreigners this week, many directed against Nigerian-owned businesses and properties.

The violence prompted reprisal attacks against South African firms in Nigeria and the temporary closing of South Africa’s diplomatic mission ins Lagos and Abuja.

At least 10 people were killed in the violence and hundreds of shops destroyed.

Buhari’s visit is meant to “reinforce the strong bonds between the two countries and jointly develop responses to challenges affecting people and businesses in South Africa and Nigeria”, said South Africa’s presidency in a statement.

Foreign workers are often victims of anti-immigrant sentiment in South Africa — the continent’s second biggest economy after Nigeria — where they compete against locals for jobs, particularly in low-skilled industries.

More than 420 people have been arrested since the violence flared up on Sunday.

AFP

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