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Reports: Hundreds of Ghanaian fans seeking asylum in Brazil

Jul 10, 2014, 10:10 PM EST

FILE - In this June 16, 2014 file photo, Ghana soccer fans wave Ghana's national flag in the stands before a World Cup soccer match between Ghana and the United States at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil. Police in southern Brazil said Thursday, July 10, 2014 that hundreds of Ghanaians who entered Brazil as tourists to watch World Cup games have asked for asylum. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File) AP

Conflict in West Africa has already generated unfortunate headlines during the World Cup. Now the often untold strife occurring in places like Ghana and Nigeria is having an impact on the ground in Brazil.

According to reports from Ghanaian website All Sports, about 200 Ghanaian soccer fans who attended this summer’s World Cup are seeking asylum in Brazil. Having initially drawn attention when they didn’t return on a charter flight after the Black Stars group stage elimination, the fans are have trickled into federal offices in the Brazilian city of Caxias do Sul over the last seven days.

According to the city’s head of police, the “the Ghanaians said they were Muslims who were ‘fleeing the violent conflicts between different Muslim groups.'”

From All Sports:

Sao Paulo seems to be the preferred destination of the asylum seeking destination with da Silva Melo confirming that about 150 of the asylum seekers had already left for the largest city in the country where employment is easy to find …

Vanessa Perini Moojen of the Roman Catholic Church’s Migrant Support Center said the asylum-seekers “faced life-threatening situations back home.” She would not elaborate …

Allsports.com.gh earlier reported that almost 240 fans failed to return on the chartered flight that was procured for their trips to support the national team during the World Cup.

More, from the BBC:

Another 1,000 Ghanaians are expected to request refugee status once the tournament is over, police said.

The Brazilian authorities believe many of the Ghanaians are looking for the right to work legally in the country.

“This region – Serra Gaucha – is known as an area of full employment. It has became a magnet for foreign workers,” federal police chief Noerci da Silva Melo said in Caxias do Sul …

Brazilian legislation allows potential refugees to work legally in the country once they have filed for asylum.

The fact that the Ghanaians have entered the country on tourist visas should not be taken into consideration when considering whether to grant them asylum, a Justice Ministry official said.

“Asylum cannot be requested at a Brazilian embassy. The asylum seeker must be in the country to apply,” said Joao Guilherme Granja.

Ghana exited this year’s World Cup with a loss in Brasília to Portugal on June 26. Caxias do Solis is located just over 1200 miles of the capital, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.

  1. mahezam - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Might want to do some research before you say there’s “often untold strife occurring in places like Ghana”. I’ve spent time in Ghana, and unless things have changed very drastically in the short time since I was there, this is probably mostly just economic opportunism on the part of the asylum seekers. Ghana is well known for being a model of stability and religious harmony in Sub-Saharan Africa. I spent most of my time there in Ghana’s Muslim-majority northern regions, and it was never anything but peaceful there. I haven’t heard anything from the people I know there about any conflict.

    If this is indeed opportunism, they might want to rethink their plans – Ghana’s GDP growth is (and consistently has been for many years) far stronger than Brazil’s is.

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