About 200 Ghanaian soccer fans have requested asylum after they entered Brazil on tourist visas to watch the World Cup, media reports said Thursday, citing federal police.
The fans have reportedly been seeking asylum for over a period of seven days, and the head of the police in the city of Caxias do Sul, said that the Ministry of Justice will look into considering their applications. If the government grants their request, they will be allowed to work and travel within the country. The Ghanaians reportedly said that they are Muslims and are “fleeing the violent conflicts between different Muslim groups,” in their home 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 reportedly said in Caxias do Sul, which is located more than 1,200 miles southwest of the capital Brasilia, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.
About 1,000 Ghanaians are expected to request refugee status after the World Cup finals, BBC reported, citing police.
"You go through the streets and you can see many Haitians and Senegalese selling pirate CDs and watches. The area is overcrowded now" Melo told Agencia Brasil, according to BBC.
Melo also reportedly said that about 150 of the Ghanaians have left for the states of Sao Paulo and Santa Catarina where they have a better chance of finding jobs.
Vanessa Perini Moojen of the Roman Catholic Church's Migrant Support Center, which provides temporary shelter to asylum seekers said, according to All Sports, a Ghanaian website, that the asylum seekers "faced life-threatening situations back home."
"They feel they can find work and better living conditions in Brazil," she added.
Joao Guilherme Granja, a Justice Ministry official said, according to BBC: "Asylum cannot be requested at a Brazilian embassy. The asylum seeker must be in the country to apply.
"We have hundreds of Syrian refugees in Brazil at the moment in the same situation."
Ghana's national soccer team, also known as the Black Stars, made an early departure from the World Cup after losing to Portugal in Brasilia on June 26.