Closing borders “may bring refugees to Portugal”, warns SEF union leader

As migrants are forced to change their routes into northern Europe, SEF border control agency union has warned that Portugal may suddenly be thrown squarely into the escalating global crisis.

Talking on RTP Antena 1 radio yesterday, the president of SEF’s syndicate of inspectors, Acácio Pereira, has admitted his men are on the alert.

“There has been a reinforcement of controls,” he explained. “There could be a divergence of routes to Portugal. This is a fact, and a possibility.”

As Pereira sounded his warning, elsewhere former European minister for Justice and Interior Administration António Vitorino voiced concerns over what he called “the pressures against the freedom of free circulation” of people throughout Europe.

Talking to Diário Económico, the Socialist politician said the closing of borders was a “factor of preoccupation for Portugal”.

“The lack of mutual confidence” between countries is a “fundamental problem of the politics of migration”, he explained, adding that the “system of European asylum presents enormous vulnerabilities”.

Solidarity should be at the base of all treaties over these kinds of emergencies, but “there is no magic number” that countries can be forced to take in.

In Portugal’s case, Vitorino told DE he thinks 4,700 is “reasonable”.

“There have to be effective, objective conditions” to offer incoming migrants. “The manifestation of goodwill is not enough”, he explained, as otherwise Portugal could be “labouring under an illusion” that could later cost it “a great deal”.

Vitorino also suggested that the “first people to arrive” in Europe at the start of the crisis were not, in fact Syrians, Afghans or Eritreans.

“They were people from the western Balkans”, he said. “And these people are not refugees … they should be sent back”.

Thus the refugee crisis continues to stir up spin-off stories, fears and feelings, and Portugal has yet to even agree on the final number of migrant families to be admitted.

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