Justice and Immigration officials in Brazil are bracing to handle thousands of asylum applications after some 200 Ghanaian football fans joined an unspecified number of Syrians who have asked for political asylum.
The Ghanaians claim they are Muslims fleeing from inter religious conflicts back home. Police in the rich southern city of Caxias Do Sol, located miles away from where the Ghanaian Black stars last played say they are expecting more asylum applications from more than 1000 other Ghanaians when the world cup ends on Sunday July 13 2014 with the long anticipated clash between Argentina and Germany. An unspecified number of nationals from other countries are also expected to ask for asylum in Pele’s country.
Federal police Chief Noerci Da Silva Melo is quoted as saying “the region-Serra Gaucha, is known as an area of full employment. It has become a magnet for foreign workers”. The Roman Catholic church has given temporal shelter to the Ghanaian asylum seekers who can work according to Brazilian law, while waiting for the outcome of their applications. The Ghanaians entered Brazil on tourist visas to watch the world cup but this is not expected to negatively affect the outcome of their asylum applications.
According to Brazilian asylum law, the cases of the Ghanaians and the thousands of other people who will be seeking refugee status in the South American country would be determined after examination by government officials. The UNHCR and civil societies are also partners who help the Brazilian authorities in examining cases of people fleeing from persecution in their home countries. A 1997 law in Brazil established an independent agency CONARE (Comite National para Refugiados) to examine all asylum cases that must be made to the police initially. If their cases are genuine, they get refugee status and those who are unsuccessful can appeal against the decision once. There is no specific time frame for deciding the application but asylum seekers can work while waiting for the outcome of their applications.
A source in the Justice Ministry in Brazil told Iroko Magazine, “Brazil is not the final destination of these asylum seekers. Most are just using our country as temporal refuge while they look for ways to get to the United States of America”.
The Official who did not want to be named said they knew thousands of people especially from impoverished countries will use the world cup to flee their countries but there was little Brazil could do to stop them. “Most fans will however return to their home countries. A vast majority have already left after their teams were eliminated” he said
The Black stars of Ghana were kicked out of the world cup after failing to qualify for the knockout stages of the competitions for the first time in three participations. Two players, Sulley Muntari and Kevin Prince Boateng were suspended from the team shortly before their last group match for indiscipline. The west African country shocked analysts when it dispatched $3m dollars in cash in a chartered plane to Brazil to pay player bonuses on the eve of their last group match which they lost and were eliminated. President John Mahama, like his counterpart Paul Biya in Cameroon, ordered an inquiry into the poor performance of the Black stars and Lions at this years’ world cup.
The drama in team Ghana is now history to the hundreds of Ghanaians who are now using the qualification and participation of their team in Brazil to achieve their personal goals.