About 60 Nigerians who said they entered Russia on the pretext of being World Cup fans camped outside Nigerian embassy in Moscow yesterday are asking for help.
Sofiya Dukhovnaya, an activist with the anti-human trafficking group Alternativa, told The Associated Press the men arrived in Russia using a legal loophole posing as World Cup fans. An agency in Nigeria sold them World Cup fan identification cards that allowed them to enter Russia without a visa and promised them work.
But it was clear that the men were not in Russia for the soccer because they didn’t know which matches their national team was playing or even how many players were on the team, according to Dukhovnaya.
Once in Russia, the men realised they had been lied to. There were no jobs lined up for them, their return tickets turned out to be fake and they very quickly ran out of money and couldn’t afford food and shelter. ”They were hoping to
find work and improve their lives,” Dukhovnaya said.
Alternativa said the Nigerian Embassy promised help, but did little for the men. The group tried feeding some of the men and putting them up in hostels, but as more and more came, Alternativa ran out of resources and could not support them all. Besides the 60 men who showed up near the embassy in Moscow yesterday, rights activists believe there are dozens more in and around Moscow.