1500 refugees – most of them Syrians relocated from Greece and Italy by the  European Commission – have applied for asylum in Portugal since December 2015. In the meantime, more than half of them have already left the country in search of greener pastures. Only a quarter has obtained refugee status.
15 of them have ever since applied for family reunification.
1 has succeeded so far. Just one!

‘It’s a shame how Portugal treats his refugees’, says Jose Manuel Pureza, MP of the Left Bloc (BE). ’The Portuguese government is – unlike many European countries – willing to accept more refugees. That’s positive. The problem, however, is the practical implementation.’

‘The bureaucratic and administrative obstacles for refugees are enormous’, explains Francesco Vacchiano, investigator at the Institute for Social Science (ICS) from the University of Lisbon. ‘While people arrive here full of hope, our system only allows marginal positioning in society, not real integration. These refugees are completely left on their own. They get a roof over their heads, an allowance of 150 euro per month and are not – officially – allowed to work. That’s it! Their – well-meant – scattered allocation all over the country generates even further isolation’.

‘People are simply put somewhere and have no say at all in the conditions in which they are accommodated’, Vacchiano emphasizes. ‘As if a refugee doesn’t have a voice of his own. His educational background and profession don’t exist anymore. These are simply deleted.’

The granting of a residence permit by the SEF ( Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) – Portugal’s immigration and border police – takes by and large 12 to 18 months. One can only apply for family reunification áfter obtaining the permit, which takes ‘at least another 5-6 months’, according to SEF.

Besides, families aren’t evaluated as a whole but each member is screened one at a time, giving rise to even more delay in the reunification process.
One can only conclude, that it makes little sense to allow more asylum seekers into the country if SEF is not able – or willing – to step up their work. Even if the government preaches, that it wants to welcome another 1000 refugees this year.

Bom fim de semana             Enjoy your weekend             (pic SAPO/Público)



Empowerment his aim
Education his weapon
Africa his battleground

Bernard Groosjohan, dean medical school, Beira, Moçambique.

Rest In Peace – a luta continua.


Chronicle of an announced death?

‘Got a cold beer?’
The bartender from the restaurant Pedro dos Leitões in Mealhada looked straight into the weary eyes of a stocky man in a blue jacket with Ministry of Environment written on it
‘Sure man, here you are. Been busy?’
You say it. Took us ages to get decent samples.’
‘Samples? Whereof?
‘Of that paper mill nearby, in Vila Velha de Rodão. We first only got that stinking foam and had to go really deep into the river to get nice samples ’
Oh, you mean Celtejo?’
It had been in all the newspapers and every day on TV. Celtejo, the cellulose factory had caused a natural disaster last month by dumping enormous amounts of waste in the drought-inflicted Tagus, the country’s largest river. Thousands of fish had died and tourists fled the area. The excessive discharges had probably been going on secretly for years. The government had decided to a 50% cut in production until further notice and Francisco Ferreira from ZERO – the sustainable terrestrial system association – already claimed compensation from Celtejo of 150.000 euro for damage done. Cleaning of the mess was estimated to cost at least one million euro according to Portugal’s Minister of Environment,  João Matos Fernandes.
‘Yeah, that’s the one’, nodded the client and pointed to his empty glass.
But why more samples?’ said the barkeeper. I thought the case was closed and Celtejo the culprit. The party for People, Animals, and Nature (PAN) demanded yesterday immediate closure of the plant. At least that’s what I’ve heard on the news.’
‘It’s not all that easy’, grumbled the official. ‘We have to be very sure before we can shut down a big company like that. Imagine what is going to happen with its 300 employees? Vila Velha completely depends on that industry. Besides that, we have to verify if its production has been really halved.
‘OK, thanks for the beer. They are expecting the data in Lisbon as of today.’
He briskly walked around the restaurant but came to an abrupt standstill when he reached the parking lot.
‘Oh no’, he whimpered when he saw the rear window of his car smashed and his PC gone.

Computer with confidential data from the Celtejo investigation stolen in restaurant Pedro dos Leitões, Mealhada
[ Expresso 23-2-2018 ]

‘The Tagus is more beautiful than the river that flows through my village,
But the Tagus is not more beautiful than the river that flows through my village
Because the Tagus is not the river that flows through my village.

The Tagus descends from Spain
And crosses Portugal to pour into the sea.
Everyone knows this.
But few know what the river in my village is called
And where it goes to
And where it comes from.
And so, because it belongs to fewer people,
The river of my village is freer and larger.’                 (Fernando Pessoa, 1914)

Bom fim de semana            Have a nice weekend             
( photo Público)