The purported existence of an illegal migration route through the Algarve is being investigated, Portugal’s Minister of State and of the Presidency announced in Parliament this week.
“What we need to establish is whether there is in fact a new illegal migration route,” said Mariana Vieira da Silva during a parliamentary debate.
Her statement came in response to a question from PSD MP Telmo Correia about what the government was doing to determine the existence of the route.
Ninety-seven migrants from Morocco were intercepted in the Algarve in 2020, a number which has grown this year following the illegal arrival of a boat with 13 migrants in Vila Real de Santo António in March.
As the MP stressed, it was only last June that Portugal’s internal administration minister dismissed the “ridiculous suggestion” that there was an illegal migration network involved in the growing number of migrants reaching the Algarve’s shores.
A total of seven boats carrying illegal migrants have arrived on the region’s shores since December 2019, but according to the minister, this is not a “problem of great significance” when looking at the big picture of Europe’s illegal migrant issues.
Telmo Correia also questioned the minister about whether the government was working with other countries to set up legal paths for these people to enter our country, stating that “the answer to illegal immigration is legal migration”.
The minister revealed that agreements with other countries such as Morocco, Moldavia and India are currently “in the phase of negotiations” and added that the government is also working on creating a “space of mobility” between the CPLP – community of Portuguese-speaking countries.