Friday, July 11, 2014

The Ghanaian "Asylum" Seekers in Brazil

The recent claims for political asylum by 200 Ghanaians that went to Brazil to watch the World Cup has come as a shock to me. By all accounts Ghana is politically a freer country than Brazil and has a much better human rights record in recent years. The news stories say the Ghanaians requesting asylum are Muslims fleeing conflict in the north. But, when I left Ghana on 14 June 2014 to come to Kyrgyzstan for the summer I had not heard of any such conflicts during the more than three years I have lived there. What is true is that on a per person basis Brazil is about four times richer than Ghana. This rather than any political or religious reasons would appear to be the real reason that 200 Ghanaian tourists in Brazil so far have applied for "asylum" and many news sources speculate the number could grow to be as high as 1000. While there are some very wealthy people in Brazil, there is also a lot of extreme poverty. It is not necessarily guaranteed that a Ghanaian immigrant in Brazil will have a higher standard of living in Sao Paulo than he would in Accra. There are also reports that a number of these "asylum" seekers want to use Brazil as a way station to the US, believing that it will be easier for them to obtain a visa to the US there than in Ghana. As a US citizen working in Ghana I can assure the Ghanaians in Brazil that there are no jobs in the US even for US citizens and that they are much better off going back to Ghana than being unemployed in the US.

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