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Eight Months After World Cup, Stranded Nigerians, Others Face Deportation From Russia




In a cramped apartment on the outskirts of Moscow, Lamin has little more than the clothes and the Bible he brought with him when he came to Russia on a temporary World Cup visa last summer.

The 23-year-old Gambian shares the two-bedroom flat with nine other people  the youngest a newborn baby girl, the daughter of a Congolese flatmate.

Like thousands of other Africans, Lamin came to Russia during the 2018 tournament on a “Fan ID” that allowed spectators to bypass the country’s usual visa requirements.

While most came purely to watch the football, others had plans to stay on and find work.

Some believed they could claim asylum in Russia or that the country would be a stepping-stone to life in Europe.

But eight months after the World Cup, their hopes have been dashed and the Russian interior ministry has said it is stepping up measures to deport all over-staying guests by the end of March.

One such immigrant affected is Solomon, who came during the World Cup to watch Nigeria play — his home side. He already had plans to stay on after the tournament.

At first, the 31-year-old found work as a gardener but is now unemployed.

“In Nigeria, there is no job, no good politics, no good life,” the engineering graduate said.

“I just want to stay here for a little time, so that I am able to work, get some money and go to another place.”

He is “very worried” about the interior ministry’s March deadline, but says he has no plans to leave of his own accord.

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