World Cup

Hundreds of Nigerians who went to Russia for the World Cup 2018 has left stranded without return tickets back to Nigeria. About 400 of them were loitering streets, and near the Nigerian Embassy in Mamontovsky Lane, Moscow in hope of getting assistance from the government.

It was reported that some of these Nigerian men entered Russia under the pretext of being World Cup fans. About 60 of them are seen camped outside the embassy on Friday, July 13. Other foreigners are also stranded at the airport without money, documents or return tickets, according to Crime Russia.

A Russian activist, Sofiya Dukhovnaya who spoke to the press said the men arrived for the World Cup using a legal loophole. As for the Nigerians, some home agency sold them World Cup fan identification cards that allowed them to enter the Europian country visa-free and false promise of getting good jobs in Russia. After interviewing some of these scammed victims, it became clear that the men were not even in Russia for the soccer since they barely know which matches their national team was playing or how many players were on the team, Dukhovnaya said.

These people discovered they’ve been deceived, there were no jobs lined up for them as they had hoped and their return tickets turned out to be fake. As expected, they have no money to pay for food and shelter, thus each one of them is sleeping on the street, some remained at the airport and begging or pestering passengers for help. Volunteers helped to settles as many as they could into hostels and bought food and soft rugs for them.

But the situation seemed dire as the  Nigerian embassy reportedly did not help but only gave contacts of volunteers from the Alternativa.  The group made several efforts to cater to the men but as more kept coming for help, Alternativa ran out of resources and could not support them all. Rights activists believe there are dozens more in and around Moscow.

Those at the airport had to be escorted out as tempers fleers when they discovered their ticket was invalid and can’t take them home. Many other reports coming in from Telegram-channel Mash, said 23 Nigerian citizens stayed at Vnukovo airport for almost two weeks.

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Meanwhile, the Nigerian Embassy has promised to return as many as they can and expects to resolve the situation within five days. They were allocated a bed and seats in the hostel for five days at the expense of the embassy. Steve Davis Ugbah, ambassador of Nigeria in Russia, said the diplomatic mission was not ready to “buy all tickets at once” and have turned to the Russian authorities for help.  He also said forced deportation of his fellow citizens would not be allowed.

Alternativa confirmed that not only the Nigerian men have been trafficked into Russia for the World Cup, the group has identified several women smuggled in for sexual exploitation.

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