"We think that the State has to intervene", because "the municipal councils are making a very worthwhile effort", but "this needs intervention at the level of the central power", Luís Menezes Leitão told journalists in Odemira, while highlighting the need for a government task force.

The official was speaking after a delegation from the Bar Association (OA) met with the mayors of Odemira, Hélder Guerreiro, and Aljezur, José Manuel Gonçalves.

At the meeting, an assessment was made of the situation and the human rights needs of immigrant agricultural workers in those municipalities.

According to the chairman of the OA, the mayors conveyed "the very complex problems that are being caused by the somewhat uncontrolled immigration situation that exists" in the two municipalities, especially in Odemira.

The situation is due "precisely" to the "fact that there is not the necessary support" on the part of the Government for "the creation of housing infrastructure necessary to welcome immigrants" and for "labour control", he said.

Human rights

Almost a year ago, the high number of cases of infection with the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease among agricultural workers in the municipality of Odemira, especially foreigners, made the country focus attention on labour abuse and the poor living conditions of these migrants.

The epidemiological situation led the Government to decree a sanitary fence in two parishes in the municipality - São Teotónio and Longueira/Almograve -, on April 29, to try to stop contagions.

At the time, the Prime Minister, António Costa, warned of the situation of "unacceptable housing" in the territory, which he considered to be "a blatant violation of human rights".

The president highlighted that “immigration is very mobile” and there is a “constant turnover” of immigrants in the municipalities of Odemira and Aljezur and, therefore, “there is no control over working conditions, housing and human conditions” in which they live and work.