Bit by bit Portugal’s solidarity is coming to the fore: beyond the willingness of the government to fast-track visas and employment opportunities, municipalities are taking the decision to step forwards and say “we’re ready to welcome Ukrainian refugees”.
The latest is Oliveira do Hospital, in Portugal’s interior – a place where mayor José Francisco Rolo assures Ukrainians can feel ‘safe’.
He said today: “We cannot remain insensitive to the appeals made by international institutions. We have to support the Ukrainian people who are living through one of the saddest moments in their history”.
“Vehemently condemning” Russia’s miliary action, he tells journalists that his municipality “has the conditions to offer the opportunity of a life to Ukrainian citizens who want to live in a safe place”.
Oliveira do Hospital will be communicating ‘immediately’ with the government and Ukrainian embassy in Portugal so as to be able to collaborate with the programme set up to find refugees places to stay, as well as in supplying essential goods and equipment.
Mr Rolo concluded: “We are a people of solidarity, who like to help citizens in moments of greatest difficulty, and within our possibilities, we will do everything to contribute to help a people who are enduring great suffering as a consequence of the atrocity of war, which causes us great indignation”.
All over the world, demonstrations are demanding an end to this war. From Portugal’s human chain in Lisbon yesterday, to much wider demonstrations in countries including Germany, Spain, Australia, Thailand, Japan… even in Russia – where thousands of citizens have apparently been arrested for showing their disapproval to the invasion of Ukraine.
As the mayor of Oliveira do Hospital opened his municipality to fleeing Ukrainians, Portugal’s secretary of state for internal administration Patrícia Gaspar was in Brussels for an extraordinary meeting of EU ministers, and she reiterated the message, on a national scale:
“We are here today to discuss a series of issues, mainly relevant to the area of internal administration with regard to the possible reception of Ukrainian citizens who want to come to Portugal. It is above all important to agree positions at an EU level, and on what is being done in line with other countries. To that extent, today’s is an important meeting”.