First Ukrainian families arrive by bus in Olhão

A bus that departed Olhão on Thursday to reach the Ukrainian border returned on Tuesday with around 50 Ukrainian refugees on board.

Said Olhão council, around 40 women and children as well as a few elderly people with links to the Ukrainian community living in Olhão or the Algarve were provided transport to the town.

All these people have families or friends to welcome them, said Olhão mayor António Pina last week. However, the town is preparing “to have another type of short and medium-term response”, namely, in terms of accommodation.

“We are also arranging social housing for shared use by families that eventually have no place to stay or if the conditions that were planned for reception are not perceived as the most correct, such as situations of overcrowding,” he told Lusa news agency.

The pavilion where Olhão’s vaccination centre has been operating has been used as the reception area for these families.

Photos of their arrival were posted on the borough’s Facebook page, where several local citizens welcomed them with open arms and wished them “peace in the Algarve”.

Loulé humanitarian bus heads for Poland
Meanwhile, a bus filled with essential supplies departed Loulé shortly after 6am on Monday to provide support to Ukrainian refugees in Poland and bring back a group of 52 Ukrainian citizens who will be provided accommodation in the borough.

Says Loulé Council, “these people have chosen Portugal to rebuild their lives, which have been destroyed by the military conflict (in Ukraine). They are mostly women and children, most of whom are family members of Ukrainian citizens already living in Loulé.”

The bus was expected to arrive in Warsaw sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday and is loaded with essential items – medicines and first-aid items, food and clothes – to be donated to refugees in need.

The bus is being driven by a team of four drivers (who will be driving in shifts), accompanied by a medical team from the Algarve Biomedical Center, a social worker and a translator. Said the council, the plan is for the bus to begin its return trip on Wednesday.

Another bus filled with essential items which are being collected by local associations and entities is also due to depart for Ukraine in the coming days, the local council says.

It adds that the initiative is being carried out in collaboration with DOINA (Algarve Association of Romanian and Moldovan Immigrants) and is officially backed by the High Commissioner for Migration, Secretary of State for Integration and Migration and Secretary of State for Internationalisation.

“Loulé will remain attentive to the humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the war in Ukraine and will continue working with several local, regional and national entities to provide support to the victims of this tragic military conflict on European soil,” the council says.

Meanwhile, Lagos has announced it is working with the Algarve Association of Ukrainians and has set up several collection points at the municipality’s parish councils (9am to 4.30pm on weekdays) and the Lagos fire station (6pm to 8pm every day).

Among the most needed items are non-perishable food, medication and milk.

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A bus filled with essential supplies departed Loulé on Monday