Portimão Town Hall lit up in Ukrainian flag colours
Portimão Town Hall lit up in Ukrainian flag colours

Algarve towns welcome Ukrainian refugees

Loulé, Portimão and Lagoa welcome Ukrainians fleeing war with open arms

Algarve towns continue to do anything they can to support Ukrainians fleeing their home country since Russia’s invasion.

In Loulé, a bus carrying 48 Ukrainian refugees arrived on Saturday at the Aquashow Hotel in Quarteira. The bus left Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday, embarking on a 48-hour journey to the Algarve.

On board were 17 adults (among them a pregnant woman) and 31 children (five of whom aged under five) from several cities such as Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv.

Many of the refugees have family or friends in Loulé, said Sandra Vaz from the council’s Health and Social Development Department. Those who do not will be provided accommodation, she assured.

Arriving refugees in Loulé
Arriving refugees in Loulé

The humanitarian initiative was carried out by the local council alongside the Secretary of State for Integration and Migration, Secretary of State for Internationalisation, the High Commission for Migration and Doina, the association of Romanian and Moldovan immigrants in the Algarve, with the support of the Algarve Biomedical Center.

The aim is to “welcome these people with dignity, provide humanitarian assistance and a safe environment,” the council said.

Arriving refugees were met by members of the local council’s social action department, civil protection, firefighters and GNR police, with the support of CNAIM (National Centre of Support for the Integration of Migrants in Algarve). They were then assisted by representatives from SEF (immigration and border authority) and Social Security services to deal with any paperwork needed and what steps must be taken.

The next stage of this humanitarian operation is social integration.

“We work as a network, in partnership, so the municipal social action service will work together with other public services to ensure the best integration of these people in the many facets of their lives,” said the council in a statement to the press.

Maria Margarida Miguel, a 27-year-old doctor who was on the bus accompanying the refugees back to Loulé, told reporters that they are “very happy to have arrived in the Algarve where most of them have family and friends”.

The doctor described the experience as “very tiring but very gratifying at the same time.”

“These are nice, affable people. Despite not mastering the language, we understood each other by using Google Translator and hand gestures,” Dr Miguel added.

Accommodation for Ukrainian refugees in Portimão
Accommodation for Ukrainian refugees in Portimão

“Portimão Supports Ukraine” campaign

Further west, Portimão has launched a campaign entitled ‘Portimão Apoia a Ucrânia’ (Portimão Supports Ukraine). The team comprises members of the local council, parish councils, representatives of regional entities, charities as well as members of the local Ukrainian community via CAPELA (Support Centre for Eastern Population and Friends).

The initiative is also supported by the High Commission for Migration and the Secretary of State for Integration and Migration.

It was created to help arriving refugees deal with the legal aspects of moving to Portugal, their paperwork, emergency accommodation, food and clothes, healthcare, job opportunities, education for their children and extracurricular activities.

Further information about the process can be requested from CLAIM – Local Support Centre for Migrant Integration, which is described as the “entrance way” to Portimão for Ukrainian refugees. The office is located on Rua Pé da Cruz and is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm – 282 470 783 | claim.portimao@cm-portimao.pt

Mayor visits collection point in Lagoa

Lagoa mayor Luís Encarnação visiting a local collection point
Lagoa mayor Luís Encarnação visiting a local collection point

Meanwhile, on Tuesday last week (March 8), Lagoa Mayor Luís Encarnação visited a donation point for essential items to help Ukrainian refugees at Largo Alves Roçadas – since moved to the former Super Saúde parapharmacy on Rua Francisco L.M. Veloso.

Accompanied by Deputy Mayor Anabela Simão and Councillor Ana Martins, the visit had been planned for days but took place symbolically on International Women’s Day as the volunteers are all women.

The visit was also a way of thanking the efforts of Portuguese and Ukrainian women who “rolled up their sleeves” and got to work to help the Ukrainian people, said the local council in a statement to the press.

The council also revealed its openness to welcome “everyone who wants to make the borough of Lagoa their home.”