Stranded Nigerian fans storm embassy


A combination of strict asylum policy for migrants  and  excruciating  hardship have forced a number of Nigerians trafficked to Russia  as Super Eagles fans  to storm the Nigerian Embassy in Moscow to seek help to return home.

Our correspondent learnt they were made to part with N350,000 each to enable them to travel to the transcontinental country  by some agents using the visa-free  FAN ID  for the 2018 World Cup.

It was learnt that while some of them were  told that there are  job opportunities for Africans  in Russia, others were told that they could cross the borders into Poland and Finland on arrival  in the country to seek asylum.

Sources said they were also told that they could seek asylum in Russia if they failed to cross the borders into Western Europe.

Our correspondent  learnt  some of the ‘fans’ (including others from Africa)  succeeded in crossing into Poland at the early stages of the World Cup. But when  the Polish authorities discovered, they tightened security around their borders to stop more ‘fans’ using their country  to  hit Germany and Denmark.

The Russian media  reported that  some Africans had been detained trying to cross the Finnish border during the tournament.

After  many Nigerian ‘fans’ failed to cross the borders, they decided to seek  political asylum in Russia, citing fears of political persecution in their  country.

 However, they discovered that  it is difficult for asylum seekers to obtain refugee status in Russia, with only 582 people admitted as refugees in 2017.

 With biting hardship after they ran out of money, the ‘fans’ decided to seek help from the Nigerian Embassy.

No fewer than  70  of them  stormed the  Nigerian Embassy  calling for  Nigerian Ambassador Steve Ugbah  to help them.

Ugbah  promised to provide them with food and shelter while he looks for a way to get them home, according to AP.

 Crime Russia quoted  Telegram channel Mash as reporting that  23 Nigerian citizens stayed at Vnukovo Airport for almost two weeks  begging, pestering  other passengers, washing  in sinks and sleeping in armchairs.

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