Of the 74 Syrian refugees who arrived on false passports in Portugal two weeks ago, only a few remain in the accommodation originally given to them – and a number have tried to flee the country. Some may have even succeeded, writes Público newspaper.
Emanuel Martins, president of a holiday camp used by SEF as temporary accommodation for the refugees, said he is “convinced” that some of the Syrians have left the country and are making their way to other countries.
He explained the group had “shown their unhappiness at being kept in Portugal from the very first moment”, saying through translators that “they did not leave their homes and native land to come here”.
“They said their destinations were Germany and France, countries where a lot of them have relatives”, Martins told Público.
His holiday camp was originally assigned 29 refugees, but Martins revealed that “at the moment, there are only 12 left – and I am not even sure about them. Today half left our premises with suitcases, but they ended up coming back”.
Before that, he explained, seven had left on one day, followed by 10 the next.
Meantime, newspapers reported over the weekend that six refugees – four adults and two children – had been turned back by Spanish authorities at the border by Vilar Formoso. The group had been on a bus bound for France but were taken off once it was found they had no papers.
As SEF explained, the only legal documents the Syrians possess are those requesting political asylum in Portugal – and until these requests are processed, the refugees are not allowed to leave the country.
The Syrians arrived in Portugal on December 10 on a TAP flight from Guiné-Bissau. TAP claimed it’s flight crew had been forced to take the unexpected passengers – even though they were all carrying false passports. The incident opened a diplomatic incident between the two countries and prompted TAP to suspend direct flights to Portuguese territory from Guiné-Bissau