The “get real” stance of PM Passos Coelho over Brussels’ plan for Portugal to absorb 2,400 migrants over the next couple of years has won a substantial cut, bringing final numbers down to “a little more than 1,400” – but the question still remains, “how will Portugal be able to cope?”
Last year, for instance, the country authorised visas for only 40 incoming migrant “refugees”.
Talking to Lusa news agency, Teresa Tito Morais of Portugal’s refugee centre CAR (Centro de Acolhimento dos Refugiados) has impressed the need for a “structure” to be put in place rapidly to face-up to the influx.
“Portugal has this ethical and moral duty, and has to prepare as soon as possible for a structure that will help the arrival of these people and their subsequent integration,” she explained – adding that both she and CAR were “very worried” that this would not happen.
Anyone who can remember the decade-plus sloth with which Portugal “integrated” African-born Portuguese that flooded into the country during the Colonial Wars will understand Morais’ concerns.
Not referring however to any of this, CAR’s president warned simply that there was a “certain delay” in the way the country is moving ahead.
Portugal in the past had agreed to taking between 30-45 migrants per year, she explained, but “in practice, due to obstacles beyond our control” far fewer had been admitted.
“Obviously, this announcement is a positive sign,” she agreed. “But I would like to see it happening” which means the country has to “articulate with Social Security” in various boroughs, and with councils, so that it is properly prepared.
Morais’ warnings have been shared by other support networks, such as Lisbon’s Santa Casa da Misericórdia, whose man-in-charge Pedro Santana Lopes has already gone on record saying the charity could only feasibly cope with around 700 incoming migrants.
For now, the prime minister has simply said Portugal’s new batch of migrants – currently in asylum centres in Greece and Italy – will be taken into temporary centres while their visas and other papers are processed.