Number of refugees fleeing Portugal “doubles in two months”

No matter how much better the country may be seen to be doing economically, refugees are still mightily unimpressed with Portugal.

Over the last two months, the numbers leaving the country and support networks extended to help their integration here has doubled.

Of the total number of 1255 refugees taken in, “principally in the last year”, 474 – “almost 40%” – have now gone, writes Diário de Notícias, suggesting this is one of the highest quotas in so-called “secondary movements” so far recorded.

The majority of those who have left are Syrians, says the paper – stressing that they “are obliged to return to the place that relocated them”.

That does not in fact tend to happen.

Since February, over 200 Syrians have gone missing. Authorities in Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden and Holland subsequently “detected” 147 of them – some were even arrested.

But only one appears to have actually returned to Portugal.

According to the paper, as many as 326 are “still with whereabouts unknown”, having left Portugal either this year or last.

The issue is being studied by UCAT, Portugal’s anti-terrorist unit, in collaboration with the police and secret services, adds DN, as the government is trying to improve the way the country assimilates incoming refugees.

Answering questions at a parliamentary hearing this week, Deputy Minister Eduardo Cabrita said Portugal needs to give incoming refugees “more information over the rules of their relocation”, and how their rights are severely limited if they then decide to leave the country.

Cabrita told MPs that the “rules stipulate that a refugee loses rights to protection, like social security, access to education and health care” outside his or her adoptive country.

As to the reasons for refugees leaving Portugal, they are multiple – but lack of employment prospects, particularly for Syrians who come well-qualified, remains a major issue.

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