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Portugal: refugees to help revive rural areas

Feb 22, 2016 | News

(21 February 2016) – Traditionally a country of emigration, Portugal has offered to take up to 10,000 migrants from countries struggling to cope with the influx, to help maintain its own population.

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© Pedro Ribeiro Simões

Portugal’s Socialist premier, Antonio Costa, last week sent letters to Austria, Greece, Italy and Sweden — countries that have seen refugees arrive in large numbers — offering to welcome up to 5,800 more refugees in addition to the 4,500 they already agreed to take as part of the European Union’s refugee quota system.

Costa recently told Brussels that Portugal should “set an example”, adding that he was against “a Europe that closes its borders to block access to refugees”.

Portugal is little known and “needs to make its voice heard to migrants arriving in Europe”, head of the Portuguese Refugee Council (CPR) Teresa Tito Morais, said. “The arrival of refugees will benefit the regions in the country that have become deserted.”

The idea to welcome refugees was launched in September by Bragança, a small town in northeast Portugal that counts some 35,000 residents, with hopes of reviving its declining population. (EurActiv with AFP)

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