Augusto Santos Silva, who responded, by videoconference, to questions from Members of the European Affairs Committee of the Assembly of the Republic, said that until Monday, 2,249 of the 3,641 repatriation requests had been resolved (61.7 percent).

Augusto Santos Silva, who answered, by videoconference, to questions from Members of the European Affairs Committee of the Assembly of the Republic, considered that the repatriation operations "are going well", although not "at the pace that [the Government] wanted" or “at the rate that each blocked person or their families would want”.

The Portuguese return is being made "often in joint operations".

Some joint operations were carried out at the bilateral level, such as with Poland, with a flight that brought Portuguese people about two weeks ago and took Poles, or with Spain, with a flight by the Iberia company that allows “to remove 18 Portuguese from Venezuela”.

Other joint operations are carried out at the multilateral level, under which, according to Santos Silva, “dozens and dozens of Portuguese are being repatriated through“ 200 flights already carried out, underway or planned”.

Portugal led one of the operations, to repatriate Portuguese and other Europeans from Lima, explaining that the underlying logic in these operations is to lead "in countries where we know that the number of Portuguese tourists will be very high" and "to systematically take advantage of flights led by other countries to integrate Portuguese citizens in them".

Santos Silva referred to the "significant costs" of these operations, which, although reimbursable by mechanisms of the European Union (EU) up to 75 percent, must first be assumed by the States.

The minister repeated that the criteria for repatriation are organized in priorities: occasional travellers, for tourism or business, for example, students and casual workers, in that order.

In the first case, he added that the Portuguese Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies noted that, out of the 30,000 Portuguese who were abroad at the beginning of the health crisis, “27,500 managed to return by rescheduling flights or redefining itineraries”.

As for students, studying abroad under the Erasmus programme, for example, Santos Silva said that 420 requests were received and 353 situations were resolved.

In the case of non-resident temporary workers, the minister pointed out two cases: that of workers in an aircraft maintenance company who are based in Djibouti, for which a repatriation operation with France is being prepared, and that of workers in Algeria, whose companies organized flights to bring them to Portugal.

Questioned in particular by MPs Paulo Moniz (PSD), Fabíola Cardoso (BE) and Cristina Rodrigues (PAN) about Portuguese emigrants in difficulty, Santos Silva reiterated that “the Government's main and immediate recommendation” is that “strictly comply with the recommendations of the authorities of the countries where they reside”.

Regarding “situations of a social nature”, due to age, suspension of economic activity or others, Santos Silva assured that “all deserve the attention” of the Government and “will demand greater breathing space and redefine the criteria for social support programmes for Portuguese communities.

The minister also referred to the “specific care for Portuguese-speaking countries”, which he said were his “number one concern in the last few days”, evoking the connections made with Cape Verde, Angola and Guinea-Bissau and another, already authorized and in the planning stage, for Mozambique, as well as, in the planning stage, for East-Timor.