Recent Moroccan Arrivals in Portugal Don’t Point to a New Migration Route, Official Says

Portugal’s Secretary of State for Integration and Migration, Cláudia Pereira, says recent headline-grabbing arrivals from Morocco to Portugal don’t quite suggest that there’s a new migration route.

As previously reported by Atlas, several groups of Moroccan migrants have arrived in the Algarve by boat over the past year and been detained by Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF).

“I know that they got a lot of media attention, but [the arrivals from Morocco] are fewer than 100, which does not allow us to know yet if it’s a new migratory pattern,” Pereira told Lusa last week. “For that matter, we still don’t have the data to understand if they wanted to come to Portugal, or if they wanted to leave Portugal and go to other countries.”

Pereira also said that more than half of these migrants have requested asylum, but none of their requests have been granted to date.

Related: 16 of the 17 Moroccan migrants who escaped from a holding facility in Tavira have been located

The sporadic arrival of small groups of migrants since December 2019 has prompted the Portuguese government to accelerate the process of establishing a new bilateral agreement with Morocco, in order to accommodate individuals who are looking to work in Portugal. 

Pereira also pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on the country’s immigrant population.

“There is a significant number of infections and also deaths among immigrants during the pandemic, due to the fact that this part of the population experiences more social and economic inequality.

“Many of them are deprived of work, many of them who could have received social support found themselves in areas where it was more difficult to obtain information and where there were cases of overcrowding, which is also why they were among those most affected by the pandemic,” said Pereira.

Recent studies have indeed found that Portugal’s foreign residents are more vulnerable to unemployment than the general population, while others have ranked the country highly in terms of integration of immigrants and other related factors.

These conflicting findings come at a time of heated debate around immigration in Portugal, as reported by Atlas yesterday.

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