Unlike most of the European partners who want to limit the flow of migrants, the Portuguese government is betting on migrants to face the country’s demographic decline. Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said among a big number of the socialist activists at his party’s conference at the end of May 2018 “We need more migrants, and we reject anti-foreign rhetoric,”
Portugal is participating in a voluntary resettlement program in Europe proposed in January 2018 by the European Commission, which aims to receive at least 50,000 refugees from Africa and the Middle East in the European Union within two years. Under the previous relocation program from 2015 to March 2018, Portugal received 1,552 refugees, making it the sixth country to receive immigrants after Germany, France, Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland. But only half remained in Portugal, while others left the country to join countries that offer better economic prospect as well the preexistence of their communities already established in other countries like Germany and Sweden.
Some of them left as well because they faced a lot of problems regarding the integration process, however it’s important to mention that regarding the 50% who left the country, 50% of them left after one month of reception in Portugal, meaning that challenges in reception might have occurred, but they do not explain a large proportion of these secondary movements.
The good intention of the Portuguese Government to receive refugees and the welcome and support of the Portuguese society does not hide at the same time the problems that the refugees are facing in Portugal.
Most of the organisations that are concerned with these refugees when they arrive do not have sufficient experience to deal with these individuals. The distribution places that include rural and distant areas, making the chances for refugee integration and employment sometimes much less if it was located in major cities such as Lisbon and Porto.
A large number of refugees had their own professions in their own countries of origin, but they could not begin again in Portugal either because of the place they were sent to or sometimes because they did not know how to start the process. Recently, many refugees were able to start their own business giving a great example how those people are able to start again and success.
Education opportunities for refugees in Portugal are successful example that the government has been able to achieve. Most of the refugee children have already enrolled in schools, a good number of adults are studying at universities, and recently the High Commission for Migration (ACM) has launched a program in cooperation with the Global platform for Syrian Students to provide scholarships to the Syrian young refugees who have arrived to Portugal to complete their education.
Some problems remain unresolved till the present day, one of them is the big bureaucracy that even the Portuguese people complain about from (SEF) with regard to residence documents and other documents needed.
Portugal has taken very promising humanitarian steps with regard to support refugees, and everyone is now waiting for the country to achieve better integration conditions.