“This year, we had around 500 requests for protection,” added Mónica Farinha in an interview with the Lusa agency, stressing that these numbers have to be interpreted in light of the covid-19 pandemic and the border closure, which served as a barrier to entry of refugees.
On the eve of World Refugee Day, to be celebrated on Saturday, 20 June, the President of the Portuguese Refugee Council considered that the global figures are "very worrying and tragic".
The number of people forced to flee worldwide due to conflict, persecution and other violence reached 79.5 million in 2019, which represents that more than 1 percent of humanity is displaced, the United Nations (UN) revealed.
Regarding the situation in Portugal, CPR considers that the country needs to “structure a reception and integration policy” that allows these citizens to have access to Portuguese language training, professional training and the recognition of diplomas they bring from the country of source.
Asked about the covid-19 situations detected in protection applicants in Portugal, the CPR president stated that the problem was identified and “the solutions too”.
Of 600 people tested, only 20 maintain positive tests for the presence of the new coronavirus, he assured.
"The majority lived in reception centres and hostels, due to the fact that our centres are overcrowded, due to the high demand", he justified, exemplifying that the same happened in places of community living such as homes and factories.
“The solutions found were to provide medical monitoring. Most were asymptomatic,” he said.
The CPR president looks with caution to the news that the Algarve may serve a new route of entry into Europe: “I believe that Portugal does not have the same migratory pressure that Spain has. But if it is a new route, it is still too early to say”.
Portugal, he argued, should continue to have a resettlement and reception programme.
By the end of the month, the first group of children living in refugee camps in Greece is expected to arrive, under the support mechanisms established.
Often seen as a problem and a responsibility, Mónica Farinha prefers to point out that refugees are normally people who, through their life and experience, have “a great strength to face problems and a great capacity for adaptation”.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was very concerned on Thursday, 18 June, about the effects of the covid-19 worldwide, highlighting the millions of Venezuelans forced to take refuge in foreign countries.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, recalled that 164 countries around the world have closed all or part of the borders as a measure to contain the pandemic, but millions of people have fled to foreign countries and are living off the "informal economy".