Fourteen Syrian and Iraqi refugees, including six children, arrived in Lisbon this week after leaving Istanbul, Turkey, as part of a Portuguese refugee resettlement programme for 2018-2019 supported by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and IOM, the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The new arrivals – three families from Damascus and Aleppo and two individuals from Iraq – are the first to be resettled under the programme, with another 1010 expected by October this year.
Said IOM’s Portugal representative Sónia Pereira: “through IOM’s offices in Portugal and Turkey, we have been supporting the Government of Portugal towards its overall commitment to receive 1,010 refugees by October. Forty more refugees are expected to arrive from Turkey under the programme this month.”
UNHCR’s Regional Spokesperson for Southern Europe, Carlotta Sami added that her organisation “has been supporting Portugal strengthen its resettlement scheme, deploying a resettlement expert to Lisbon and working with Portuguese authorities to identify and refer at-risk refugees in Egypt and Turkey as part of the programme”.
It appears from updates online that these first refugees are being homed in Braga and Lisbon.
The reliefweb.int website explains that “municipal authorities and NGOs throughout Portugal are supporting refugees arriving through this programme, who will be offered initial support with housing and basic needs while they learn the Portuguese language and pursue employment.
“The refugees will have access to healthcare and education, as well as professional and vocational training”, says the site, adding that 127 refugees have now been resettled in Portugal from Egypt.
Resettlement is available “only to a fraction of the world’s refugees”, adds the site, stressing that “typically, less than 1% of refugees worldwide are ever resettled”.
This is the first news item to follow the revelation from television news station Aljazeera that Portugal was “in advanced talks with Germany to relocate thousands of refugees” (click here).
IOM’s report suggests the families are very keen to make their lives in Portugal.
Said one before boarding the plane to Lisbon: “Here in Turkey, they call us ‘refugees’ and this identity follows us all the time wherever we go… I don’t want my son to be a refugee or to be called ‘refugee’.”
IOM holds information sessions “to help local actors prepare to receive refugees in the designated Portuguese municipalities. This is done by sharing the general profile of refugees, explaining the contexts in their countries of origin and first asylum, and by imparting knowledge on how to create empathy with people from diverse origins and with a refugee background”.
For more information (click here)