asylum in brazil
The World Cup is over for another four years, and while Germany celebrates and fans from all over the world return home, at least 200 Muslims from Ghana are seeking asylum in Brazil.

The Ghanaians, who went to Brazil as tourists supporting their country in the World Cup, claim that they are afraid to return home due to violence in Ghana stemming from religious conflict. The Ghanaian government has released a statement saying that there is no such violence in the country.

The religious makeup of Ghana is 71 percent Christian, 18 percent Muslim and 5 percent indigenous beliefs. The Muslim population resides primarily in northern Ghana, which coincidentally is also where poverty rates are highest. Southern Ghana has seen promising economic growth in the past 30 years and in 2011 the country received the status of lower middle class, but poverty in the north is declining at a much slower rate.

A major reason for this is little economic opportunity outside of agriculture, and a tendency for droughts and food shortages. Farmers in the north do not have access to modern technology that would result in higher crop yields.

The Ghanaians have been allowed to stay in Brazil for now, while the Justice Ministry listens to their cases and makes rulings. The Brazilian city in which many have applied to live, Caxias do Sul, is a very prosperous one and a magnet for foreign workers. It is more than 1000 miles away from where Ghana’s national team, the Black Stars, competed in the tournament. The Stars were ousted early on after losing to both the USA and Portugal.

The number of Ghanaians seeking asylum in Brazil could jump to 1000 now that the World Cup is over, but to be given asylum they will have to prove that conditions in their home country are unsafe. Ghana is frequently cited as one of Africa’s most peaceful nations, with cooperation between Muslims and Christians. However, those seeking asylum claim that the conflict and aggression is between different Muslim factions and not other religions. Whether or not their claims are true or they are simply searching for a new life with better economic opportunity remains to be seen. The Ghanaian government has proclaimed that they are scandalized by the ordeal.

While the Justice Ministry reviews these cases there are many Syrians in Brazil seeking asylum for the same reasons. Those who live in Caxias do Sul do not seem particularly open to the idea of hundreds of new residents, saying that the area is overcrowded as it is.

– Taylor Lovett

Sources: New York Times, BBC, Rural Poverty Portal
Photo: London Evening Standard