Far from the refugee camps of Eastern Europe, Portugal is rarely associated with the term “refugee.” Its location presented an obstacle for refugees fleeing countries such as Syria. But the Portuguese prime minister is determined to change the idea that Portugal is not a country welcoming refugees. With the help of the European Union, Portugal is increasing refugee quotas, and welcoming unprecedented numbers. These 10 facts about Portugal refugees show the newfound commitment of the Portuguese to refugees.
- The European Union unveiled a new plan to relocate refugees from Italy and Greece to Portugal. This made Portugal third on the list of countries for the number of refugees it will welcome under the plan.
- In 2015, Portugal received 872 requests for asylum. Of these requests, 19 were from Syria, five were from Iraq, and four were from Afghanistan.
- Portugal is undeniably prepared to handle the increase in refugees as it was ranked second, behind Sweden, for its accomplishments for assimilating refugees into society.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) introduced a five-day course for medical professionals to educate them on refugee health. Portugal has sent representatives to the course in order to become prepared for the increase of refugees to which is has committed. The course will cover how to assist refugees in finding healthcare, why it is economically important to focus on the health of migrants and applicable strategies that focus on refugee populations.
- World Refugee Day ushered in opportunities all over the world for refugees. Starbucks announced its plan to hire 2,500 refugees all over the world, including in Portugal.
- Prime minister António Costa increased the number of refugees from 4,000 to 10,000 in an apparent effort to boost the economy. This has led to refugee relocation across Portugal in an attempt to increase job growth.
- Pão a Pão, a restaurant in Lisbon, gave refugees around the city a new start. The majority of its employees are refugees, cooking bread from their place of origin.
- Although Portugal became a rising star in terms of their commitment to refugees, some have criticized the move as simply a way to boost the population. The economic crisis sent many Portuguese citizens abroad in search of employment.
- Portugal is a widely Catholic country that listens intently to the words of the Pope, and thus takes his lead on various social issues. His recent interest in the refugee crisis contributed to Portugal’s willingness to accept more migrants.
- Portugal continually struggled to attract refugees as the location is distant from where they begin their journey. Many refugees aim for Central Europe because of the perceived wealth, with Portugal never appearing on their radar.
The experience of Portugal refugees shows that this Western European country could soon be center stage in terms of migrant numbers. Portugal is ramping up preparations to accept thousands more immigrants and sees the refugee crisis as an opportunity to grow its population and economy. These facts about Portugal refugees prove that Portugal is a country refugees should be seeking.
– Sophie Casimes