Algarve refugee camp pushed inland for “tourism reasons”

On the same day that the Portuguese government said it can receive more refugees than the 1,500 planned (and that a shocking photo of a three-year-old refugee boy lying dead on a Turkish beach went viral), the Portuguese council of refugees (CPR) announced that Olhão council has refused to set up a refugee camp in Fuzeta, offering instead sites in the inland areas of Quelfes, Pechão and Moncarapacho.

“We agreed that Fuzeta isn’t the most appropriate location for the camp,” Teresa Tito de Morais, the president of the CPR, told Lusa news agency following a meeting with Olhão mayor António Pina.

The idea had been suggested by the Moncarapacho-Fuzeta delegation of the Portuguese Red Cross, but as Pina explained, the refugee camp wouldn’t “fit in” in a town that is “trying to develop itself as a tourist destination”.

Instead, the local council has offered either two sites in Quelfes and Pechão, in the inland area of the municipality, or in Moncarapacho.

According to Público newspaper, the Algarve camp will be able to home 50 refugees. Whether the camp will be able to house even more refugees is still unclear.

What is certain is that “Portugal has the conditions to receive more than the 1,500 refugees it originally planned”, says Regional Development Minister Miguel Poiares Maduro.

He hopes, however, that the rest of Europe will show the same “solidarity and willingness” to extend its refugee quota.

Maduro also announced the creation of a “refugee working group”, which will include members from several Portuguese institutions, including the national border authority (SEF) and social security institute (ISS).

The minister added that when necessary, the group will meet with “local authorities, non-governmental institutions and other social groups” to help out with this matter.

[email protected]