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Russia struggling to send Africans with special visas home

At the end of the Football 2018 World Cup, nearly 12 000 African nationals remained in Russia after the expiry of their "Fan ID", a visa specifically issued for the sports competition.

Published: March 7, 2019, 12:54 pm

    Moscow

    Initially, the African fans were allowed into the country as part of a good image Russia wished to convey, by expanding its showcase internationally. But the African fans have finally become a burden for the Kremlin.

    As reported by Le Monde, thousands of “supporters” from abroad were able to set foot in Russia at the World Cup held last summer thanks to the “Fan ID” distributed around the world, a document written to replace the normal visa to cross the border. But the Russian Federation soon faced an obstacle: several thousand Africans have remained in the country illegally.

    Satisfied with the success of the World Cup, President Vladimir Putin had extended the length of the precious document – scheduled to expire at the end of the competition – until the end of 2018.

    Unfortunately, according to the Ministry of the Interior, some 12 000 people, mostly Africans, were found to be in Russia illegally after the end of this period. However, they were only 5 500 in February.

    The head of a Moscow center for immigrants interviewed by Le Monde told the French daily that he had never seen so many arrivals from Africa as in the last ten years.

    The situation is not sustainable, he said. Not only for the authorities but especially for the migrants that have arrived in Russia. A 23-year-old Gambian boy met with a reporter from the newspaper. He said he lives in a two-room apartment with nine other people, including a baby.

    Following a family conflict that could have cost him his life, he fled his country and was assisted by a migrant from Liberia, who was expelled from Russia in February by the authorities.

    Russia has only granted asylum to 33 people in 2017, so there is little hope for those remaining to receive permanent status. For its part, the Kremlin is stepping up its efforts to evacuate these disruptive supporters, the official said.

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