Immigrants cannot register the birth of any babies unless they are fluent Portuguese-speakers.
This is the situation highlighted by Público that has become painfully apparent this week.
Without being registered, children of immigrants legally settled in this country “cannot use the national health service, nor receive any kind of child support”, says the paper.
The problem stems from Portuguese bureaucracy. IRN – the notaries institute – will not process birth registries where the parents have poor command of Portuguese.
Says Observador, it’s a reality that came to light when two babies were born to two separate Nepalese mothers, neither of which speak working Portuguese.
The fathers however do speak Portuguese. This is not enough, reports explain. The mothers also have to be seen to understand the language.
Explained Fátima Ferreira of the national registries syndicate, registering a birth “involves a lot of law, the law of nationality, the law of name composition”. Giving examples, Ferreira cited the order of surnames which “vary from culture to culture” and the need for parents “to perfectly understand what is being asked of them”.
The instant solution, of course, is to provide an interpreter. But there are no ‘recognised’ Nepalese interpreters to be found – and with the growing list of nationalities settling in Portugal, particularly refugees – the problem is certain to increase.
Says Observador, it’s very possible that there are already other children affected by this nationality ‘nomansland’.
For now the two children of agricultural workers are receiving different attention. One is being accompanied by the local health centre in São Teotónio “out of kindness”, the other isn’t receiving any kind of medical support.