About 40 Catholic pilgrims who travelled to Brazil for Pope Francis's recent visit are hoping to stay permanently by seeking political asylum.
The UN High Commission for Refugees in Brasilia said the asylum seekers who came to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day claimed they suffer persecution in their home countries, which include Pakistan, Congo and Sierra Leone.
At least a dozen pilgrims say they are persecuted as Christians; the rest say they face political persecution or are fleeing conflicts.
If was unclear how long Brazil's Justice Ministry will take to consider the asylum applications. The UN agency has said it will help the applicants.
Meanwhile, the pilgrims are being cared for by the church and the families who sheltered them during World Youth Day.