Portugal accepts the entry of “all Moroccans who arrive by boat”, as André Ventura says? Official data show another reality

Immigration, mainly spontaneous, that is, that which corresponds to people who arrive in Portugal without prior authorization to enter, is considered by André Ventura, candidate for the presidential elections of 2021 by the Chega party, as one of the biggest problems that Portugal faces. In the televised debates among all the candidates, and also in interviews, André Ventura repeatedly focused on the theme of Moroccan citizens who, during the year 2020, arrived in Algarve by boat.

Asked, in SIC Notícias, in the debate with Marisa Matias, about whether he still defended what he wrote, in 2015, about the need to welcome migrants, André Ventura admitted that one cannot close the door to those fleeing war and religious persecution, but, however, he also said that Portugal “cannot accept all Moroccans who arrive by boat” and “it is not anyone who arrives from Morocco by boat and enters Portugal and Europe anyway.” But Portugal did not accept as refugees all Moroccans who landed on national territory last year.

Expresso asked the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) for updated figures on the number of landings, asylum requests and positive responses to those requests obtained by Moroccan citizens since the beginning of this unusual migration flow in our country and official data show that of the 95 adult citizens who arrived in Portugal in six landings, 66 presented requests for international protection, 57 of which were considered unfounded, so only nine people saw their processes follow the normal procedures for regularizing migrants. Two of these people are minors.

Other numbers on the reception of migrants

On the general figures on the presence of refugees and asylum seekers in Portugal, Expresso also asked SEF for a new update. Portugal participates in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Resettlement Program, which consists of a process of selecting and transferring refugees, already recognized by UNHCR, from a third country. SEF travels frequently to several refugee camps where it interviews people with status already recognized by the UN. Based on these assessments, which take into account several factors, namely the likelihood of adaptation to the country, the Portuguese authorities authorized 631 people to enter. Of these, 301 come from Syria, 182 from Iraq, 66 from South Sudan, 64 from Sudan, 7 from Ethiopia, 6 from Somalia and 5 from Eritrea – all of these countries considered unsafe by international authorities.

With regard to the rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean, normally carried out by humanitarian ships, Portugal has already received a total of 217 migrants. Although Portugal does not have a rescue boat with its flag, the country is part of a group of Member States that are often available to receive people before they enter the regularization systems of the countries they reach, usually Malta or Italy, in order to ease the pressure on the Mediterranean countries, which receive many more people spontaneously than those who arrive on our coast.

During 2020, as the SEF explained, 95 Moroccan citizens arrived in Portugal, while 34,154 people disembarked in Italy. Almost 16 thousand people arrived in Greece, 9,687 by sea and another 5,982 by land, from Turkey. This year the Canaries were the scene of a very high number of arrivals – 11,000 until November 30, 2020, compared with 2,557 in the same period in 2019. In total, 1362 people died trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2020, according to data from International Organization for Migration (IOM).

In the SEF’s reply it is also read that, “within the scope of the Portuguese commitment to the European Commission, for the replacement of up to 500 unaccompanied minors, 72 minors are already in our country. According to data from the European Commission at the end of November, Portugal is the 4th Member State that has received the most unaccompanied minors, after Germany, France and Finland.

In the case of relocation, most of the funds used for the installation and integration of migrants arrive from the European Union, around six thousand euros per person for the 18 months that the adaptation period officially lasts. In the new migration pact to be discussed during the Portuguese presidency of the EU, it is predicted that states that accept to receive people can count on 12 thousand euros per child and 10 thousand per adult.

Source: Expresso by expresso.pt.

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