Illegal migrants crossing to the Algarve increasing

in News · 19-06-2020 01:00:00 · 6 Comments

The Algarve is increasingly being sought after by illegal immigrants as a gateway to the European continent and in recent months this trend has been rising.

Over the past six months the Algarve region has seen 48 illegal immigrants from North Africa entering the country, with the last case recorded on 15 June in Vale do Lobo, when a vessel with 22 Moroccan migrants was intercepted.

In December 2019, a group of eight immigrants arrived on the Algarve coast and in January this year 11 Moroccan citizens were detected off the island of Armona, in the municipality of Olhão.

On 6 June, seven migrants from North Africa were detected off Olhão, and on 15 June a vessel with 22 men, allegedly of Moroccan origin, was intercepted when the crew prepared to disembark at Vale do Lobo beach.

In light of this new emerging trend, the Minister of Internal Administration, Eduardo Cabrita, said in January this year that it was “premature” to consider that this was a new migration route to Portugal.

“It is very premature. There were tens of thousands of arrivals in Spain and we will not be able to draw any conclusions from the most recent arrivals in Portugal. We are attentive, I am in talks with Spanish and Moroccan authorities, and I hope to establish, in the coming weeks, a direct meeting with my Moroccan counterpart on several topics, including this one”, said Eduardo Cabrita.

Eduardo Cabrita underlined that, at the moment, Portugal has three legal migration agreements pending with Morocco, India and Moldova.

“What we want with Morocco is to open a mechanism for legal and prepared migration,” he said, arguing that illegal immigration should be the object of investigation and legal treatment.

The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Admiral António Silva Ribeiro, in December last year, said that Portugal must be “very attentive” to the possibility of becoming a route of entry for migrants.

“We have to be attentive. We have to be very attentive to that possibility because it is not very different to go to Spain or to go to the Algarve, it is just a matter of choice,” he said.

In that sense, he added, it is necessary that the police authorities -SEF, the Maritime Police and the Republican National Guard, namely through the Coastal Control Unit - maintain the monitoring of such phenomena, as well as border surveillance.

In turn, the Mayor of Olhão, António Manuel Pina, revealed his concern for this growing trend and called for a correct framing of the situation, which, in his opinion, should not be attributed to the status of refugee.

“It is true that we have to be welcoming, we are humans just like these Moroccan citizens, but we also should not confuse, in my opinion, these cases with citizens and migrants in the Mediterranean, in Syria, in Libya, where there are, in fact, fleeing from war and deplorable life situations, with these situations”, said the mayor of Olhão.

As long as they are not considered illegal immigrants and returned to their countries, groups of migrants will continue to try to reach the Algarve coast in boats, said Pina who is also the president of the Intermunicipal Community of the Algarve (AMAL).

António Miguel Pina said that the various cases of small boats that have arrived in the Algarve with migrants on board since last year, and the interception of the latest vessel with 22 migrants, allow us to think that there is an organised structure for illegal immigration to the south coast of Portugal.

“This new arrival only reinforces our concerns, which have already been expressed to the Minister of Internal Affairs, because those who arrived a week ago were from the same location as the others from the previous year”.

António Pina said he disagrees with the possibility of these young people being considered exiles or political refugees, because the situation in Morocco, the country from which they say they come from,“is different from the situation in the Mediterranean, with people from countries where there is war”, such as Syria or Libya.

António Pina has called for “an appropriate response to be quickly given to cases of illegal immigration, which is their return to their country” of origin, instead of the granting of refugee or exile statutes that allows these citizens to remain in Portugal.

“As long as this is not done, it gives the signal that this is possible, because nothing happens. These 22, in our opinion, even begin to configure some possibility of extra aid. This very small vessel, with 22 people, is the same size as the one in which seven people came in previously and this raises the concern that a more fixed route to help illegal immigration may have already been created here”, he said.
The President of AMAL has now called on the Government to “give a clear signal to these citizens” that they may not be considered exiles and will be returned to their countries of origin, because “only in this way will it be possible to give an adequate response to discourage others” from also trying to cross in the future, he defended.

Asked if the appearance of the 22 migrants intercepted on Monday in court could be a sign of the change in attitude of the Portuguese authorities, António Pina replied that he will “wait to understand what the final outcome of the case will be”.


Considering the recent news about a new terrorist attacked in the U.K. by a North African refugee, we need to start deporting these people to their countries of origin. We don’t want to become like Italy or Greece where thousands are arriving all the time because Governments are too weak to deal with it! We could learn a thing or two from Eastern European’s!

By Anna from Madeira on 21-06-2020 11:32

These illegal migrants are making use of services that are in place for genuine asylum seekers. Portugal is a home to Portuguese people- rhey decide who they will allow through THEIR front door. Down with EU free movement as well. Watch out who you let in - one day they might riot for any reason and tear down your statues; and destroy your culture to impose their own. The foreign cultures in UK have introduced knife crime, drugs gangs, FGM, and they disturb their neighbours by eg playing loud (rap) music till 3am- all acceptable in some foreign cultures.

By Anwar G from Other on 21-06-2020 02:32

Requirements for asylum shouldn't be made by boat. Portugal shoud have, as it did, change its stance on harbouring this migrants, no matter the terrible circunstances they are escaping.

By Diogo Freitas from Lisbon on 20-06-2020 06:33

Traffickers are doing this because of the ease with which people can travel from Portugal to the rest of the EU , which has been proved by the disappearance of refugees from Portugal

By Paul R from Other on 20-06-2020 10:10

Well, then better finally start clsoing this loophole and sending everybody back to where they came from. Portugal will not make friends with their current appoach of letting everybody in the then letting them pass on to France or Germany.

By John Dough from Lisbon on 19-06-2020 09:19

Retour au pays....

By Michel Schuermans from Algarve on 19-06-2020 08:30
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