Syrians “flee Mangualde” as data shows 1 in 4 refugees go AWOL from Lisbon

The government’s ambitious relocation programme for refugees is back in the news this week for all the wrong reasons. A young family of Syrians (father, 30, mother, 27, four children aged from 3-10 and a new baby on the way) has gone missing from the T4 they were assigned in Mangualde, while new data shows that one in four refugees placed in accommodation in Lisbon have gone missing.

TSF radio stresses that whoever leaves “has to be sent back” and that their presence in any other European country is not considered legal.

According to Teresa Tito de Morais, president of the Portuguese refugee council, a number of the ‘missing refugees’ have already been “located” in other countries.

She explained that while they are entitled to enjoy the EU’s policy of ‘free circulation’ , “there will be consequences later” if they abandoned Portugal for good.

A source for borders agency SEF explained: “People requesting international protection are not imprisoned, but they can only legally remain in Portugal.”

So far, 387 refugees have arrived on national soil as part of the EU allocations programme, bringing asylum seekers in from camps in Greece and Italy. Another 76 are due within the next few days, writes TSF.

Meanwhile, an entire family has “disappeared from Mangualde”, apparently overnight, even though, for all intents and purposes, it had been given every form of help available.

“We gave this family everything it needed,” José Carlos Tomás of the Santa Casa da Misericórdia social support organisation told reporters. “A home, food, household appliances, money for basic necessities, a family doctor, schools for the children… We even went to Viseu to show them the mosque where they could worship. It has come as an enormous surprise to discover they have fled.”

It is now up to SEF to try and locate the young Syrians and bring them all back.

TSF adds that one of the initiatives that has seen refugees disappearing in some significant numbers is that run by the Inatel foundation in Lisbon.

“About 10” of the 40 refugees placed by Lisbon Câmara have disappeared, while three out of 14 Eritreans homed in Oeiras also appear to have left the country.

Other news sources are featuring the plus-sides of relocation initiatives. Diário de Notícias for instance reports this week that the first refugee babies are starting to be born in Portugal. They will be Portuguese citizens.

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