Lamego mayor explains why Portugal’s refugee placement programme isn’t working

“One day they disappear… we are prepared for this. We know that at the first opportunity they will leave to join other people from their culture with whom they have greater affinities”.

These are the words of Lamego mayor Francisco Lopes who has been telling reporters how Portugal has had to ‘rethink’ its refugee placement programme – approaching it more as a way of offering help to people in transit than a solution that brings new permanent residents and potential workers.

The failure of the country to hold on to its incoming refugees has long been apparent (click here), and Lopes has been telling Diário de Notícias that it can only continue:

“This is what being a refugee is”, he said. “They do not come to stay. It is a process of passage, searching for their future.

“If, during a few months, a year or even two, we can find solutions to help these families to make their passage, then certainly we will continue to do so”, he added – stressing that the northern interior borough of Lamego would be only too happy to help “many more families”, particularly if they come with the idea of staying, to “help combat demographic problems”.

“It would be a blessing to any interior council if 10-12 families with around 20 children – which would be a whole class in a primary school – turned up”, he added. “But these families, due to the lack of cultural links and affinities, are not the solution to our problems”. They would have to be “much closer” to Portuguese in terms of the way they ran their lives for the settlement programme to work long-term, Lopes suggested.

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