Presidential Press Service/Handout/EPA

Portugal’s Afghan refugees “have already started working; children already in school”

A number of the 251 Afghan refugees already taken in by Portugal have already started working – and their children are already at school.

This was the upbeat message at an international forum earlier this week from secretary of state for integration and migration Cláudia Pereira.

She told the online European Policy Dialogue Forum on Refugees and Migration that Portugal is “deeply committed” to the integration of refugees who are in fact ‘vital’ to help balance the country’s (parlous) demographic situation (click here).

Ms Pereira went so far as to cite Portugal’s historic “solid roots of Judaism and Islam, among other cultures”, adds Lusa.

The forum, held by the Centre for International Dialogue and the Network for Dialogue and the European Council of Religious Leaders/ Religions for Peace in Europe, is held annually and aims to bring together civil society activists, organisations, legislators, religious leaders and academics.

Ms Pereira’s intervention went down extremely well, particularly when she referred to Portugal’s 85% vaccine coverage against Covid-19, which has included migrants and refugees (whether or not they have been legalised).

She concluded that “immigrants have contributed strongly to our society, socially, culturally, linguistically, demographically and economically”. 

Indeed, according to the Migration Observatory, in 2019 “immigrants contributed €884 million to the social security system”, she said.

Portugal’s ambition is to take in more Afghan refugees, giving priority to professional women whose freedom and ability to function in Afghanistan under the Taliban is practically zero.

On the same day of the forum, Portugal welcomed another 43 Afghans from Greek refugee camps (see image above), so meeting the objective to take 100 under an agreement established with the Hellenic State in 2019.