Over the last 12 months, Portugal has taken in “around 700 refugees who are now spread across 66 boroughs of the country”.
Soon, reports Diário de Notícias, 92 more people are expected via the Cáritas organisation working in Greece.
One of the high-profile initiatives was the settlement of four families (three Syrian and one Sudanese) in Penela, says the paper which has now come up with an overview on how Portugal’s new immigrants are feeling.
“Many prefer to remain anonymous when they explain what hasn’t gone well,” DN explains, stressing nonetheless that the families “always emphasise their gratitude to Portugal, a country they only knew by name and thought would be “similar to Germany” as it was on the same continent”.
The ‘problems’, however, have only just started to show themselves.
For example, one of the families with four children aged from one to six explains that they have been told “we have to return everything: furniture, household appliances, even bed linen. The same with the mobile phones they gave us. And from now, we have to start paying rent”, despite the fact that State Minister Eduardo de Cabrita “guaranteed habitation” says the paper, “as well as RSI benefit for those who need it”.
The refugee assistance fund, which runs the project, has refused to comment on the denouncement, says DN.
President Jaime Ramos says only that there will be a press conference in the middle of September, and all questions should be sent to Penela’s refugee centre technical director, Nataliya Beck.
The paper adds that the president of the Portuguese council for Refugees, Teresa Tito de Morais, as well as Rui Marques of the Support Platform for Refugees, have ducked “large commentaries on the situation as they have not been involved in the case”.