26 September 2023

PORTUGAL: Migrants granted resident status

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The Portuguese Government has announced that all asylum-seekers and other migrants in the country are to be treated as permanent residents during the Coronavirus crisis.

The move gives the migrants access to Portugal’s national health service, welfare benefits, bank accounts, work and rental contracts.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Claudia Veloso said people should not be deprived of their rights to health and public services just because their application had not yet been processed.

“In these exceptional times, the rights of migrants must be guaranteed,” Ms Veloso said.

She said the announcement also had the aim of reducing contact between border control staff and asylum applicants.

The measure is expected to last until at least 1 July.

According to official figures, there are about 580,000 immigrants in Portugal; 135,000, mainly Brazilians, were granted residency last year.

The country has recorded 5,170 cases of Coronavirus with 100 known deaths. However health authorities said Portugal was not expected to reach its peak number of cases until the middle of May.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has declared a nationwide state of emergency, granting the Government powers to implement far-reaching measures to fight the outbreak.

Prime Minister, Antonio Costa insisted it was necessary to contain the spread of Coronavirus, with the country’s residents asked to stay indoors and all non-essential activity brought to a halt.

Lisbon, 31 March 2020

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