‘Oh nee, wij zijn Pashtuns! Het allerbelangrijkste is, dat ik geen ruzie met mijn familie krijg, met mijn ouders en mijn ooms en tantes.’
Negentien is ze, slank als een rietstengel met een lang gezicht waarin rustige, bruine ogen en een dunne mond. Op haar hoofd een donkergele doek met zwarte kraaltjes. De verticale strepen op haar rood-blauwe tuniek versterken haar frêle gestalte. ‘Ik zit hier al een paar jaar op school en het schiet maar niet op’, zucht ze.’ ‘Praten lukt nog wel maar schrijven is echt moeilijk’
Ashwa komt uit Afghanistan maar heeft bijna haar hele leven in Pakistan gewoond. Ze wil tandartsassistente worden – ‘om mensen te helpen’ – maar twijfelt of het ooit nog zover komt
‘Misschien moet je iets gaan studeren wat niet zo lang duurt, iets met verzorging of zo’, opper ik voorzichtig.
‘Ik wil echt niks met kinderen. Veel te druk. En ook niet met suffe bejaarden’, antwoordt ze fel.
Dan pakt ze een portemonnee uit haar tas.
‘Heb ik vanmorgen gevonden, bij de tramhalte.’
‘Zat er nog iets in?’
‘Ja, best wel veel, ongeveer 90 euro en een paar kaartjes. Ik heb de eigenaar al gebeld en die wou de portemonnee thuis bij me komen ophalen. Dat kan echt niet! Ik geef hem wel aan de politie’
‘Dus als ik het goed begrijp, gaat alleen je familie erover met wie je gaat trouwen?’
Ze knikt.
‘En, zijn er al gegadigden langs gekomen?’
‘Ja hoor, best wel veel’, zegt ze niet zonder trots. ‘Mijn familie gaat dan alles heel precies uitzoeken over die jongens’. Ze hebben al iemand op het oog.
‘Oh!’. Ik kijk haar verbaasd aan.
‘Hij is 22 en zit ook nog op school.’
‘En wat vind jij zelf belangrijk of maakt dat toch niks meer uit?’
‘Hij moet knap zijn – want dat ben ik niet – en lang
‘Is die dat?’
‘Nee. Hij is best klein maar ziet er wel heel lief uit.’

18 oktober 2018


‘Only foreigners work here, he confesses. It’s hard work and poorly paid. Sixteen hours a day for the minimum wage. You keep going because they give you a contract, that is needed for a permit.’ Amit Kumar, originating from India is 32 years old and works since 2013 in Portugal. First in horticulture in the Algarve and after that in a restaurant in Belem. Although he is paying tax and social security, he runs the risk of being expelled as he can’t prove to have entered the country in a legal way. In 2017 he falls ill and has to be admitted to hospital for a week. Being unable to pay the bill, he asks his uncle in India for help. ‘I was supposed to support my family over there, not the other way around.’
When he returns to work, he discovers he is fired.

The ruling socialist party wants the government to speed up the legalization of undocumented immigrants, who have been working for more than a year and paid tax and social security. Even if they have entered the country illegally. The party invokes on Article 123 in the Aliens Act, which permits residency for foreigners on humanitarian grounds.

The reason for the amendment was the large-scale demonstration in May, when immigrants gathered before Parliament, expressing that they were treated like second-rank citizens, even though they paid tax and social insurance.

‘It concerns a group of approximately 30.000 people, who have work commitments but no rights whatsoever’, explains Flora Silva, president of the solidarity organization Olho Vivo ( ‘Most of them are from Lisbon but also from the Algarve, where many people from Nepal and Indonesia work in agriculture.

‘The law doesn’t promote the integration of immigrants, who work here for many years but are not treated as human beings’, says Timóteo Macedo, president of Solidaridade Imigrante (Solim). ‘Our Government argues, that we need more immigrants for our economy. Fine. They are already here, just come and see!’

Research by Solim in April showed that illegal immigrants pay on average 6 times more for a visit to the Emergency Department and 8 times more for a doctor’s consultation in Primary Health Care, than legal employees. ‘When undocumented workers pay their social security’, Macedo points out, ’there shouldn’t be any difference at all, isn’t it?’

Bom fim de semana            Enjoy the weekend                       (pic Público)



Nearly 1 in every 100 world citizens is on the run  –  UNHCR

‘I am very sad and angry. For more than a year in Portugal and still no permit. Why’s that?’, Mustafa asks. ‘They keep saying I have to be patient.’

When ISIS claimed one of his younger brothers for the Jihad at the end of 2015, Mustafa al-Sabee – a 30-year-old, successful tailor from Mosul – decided to flee Iraq with his family. He pays 3700 euros to reach Syria and another 5000 to enter Turkey, where he leaves his sick parents, his two younger brothers and a sister behind. He crosses the Aegean Sea by rubber boat and reaches Greece in February 2016. Six weeks later, he flies together with a selected group of – mainly Syrian – refugees to Portugal, convinced to get asylum there.

Mustafa belongs to one of the more than 1200 refugees, allocated to Portugal by the European Commission, within the framework of resettlement of refugees from Italy and Greece.

He himself would rather have gone to Belgium – where he knows a cousin – or to Germany, where distant relatives live.

In the meantime, he has been staying in Portugal for over a year, and despite the fact that pre-selection took place in Greece, he’s still waiting for his residence permit.
Without that, he can’t work officially and his family is not allowed to join him.

Resettlement of refugees is slow. To date, only 20% of the promised number of relocations of refugees from Greece and Italy, has been realized by all European member states together. Although Portugal accepted over 40% of its assigned refugees, it does not succeed in retaining them, as almost half have already left the country!

Refugees arriving in Portugal want to leave. Not at least because they prefer Northern European countries – like Germany, France or Switzerland – and feel utterly “lost” in Portugal.

Moreover, they do not find the conditions they hoped for and are distributed across the countryside, while most of them have an urban background. In addition, asylum procedures are very slow, there are problems with the recognition of diplomas and there is a lack of Arabic-speaking interpreters.

In the last 18 months, only 64 (5%) of the asylum seekers were granted a residence permit.
Is it surprising that many are heading for greener pastures up north?

Bom fim de semana