From 8 to 12 July, a joint team of the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) and of the High Commissariat for Migrations (ACM) has been in Egypt for the first contact mission and interview to refugees under protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), candidates to resettlement in Portugal.
This mission has been carried out following the Portuguese response to a European Union request, towards the whole of the Member States, for the resettlement of about 50.000 people in need of international protection in the European Union until October 2019.
Portugal has decided to resettle 1.010 refugees found under the protection of UNHCR in Turkey and Egypt.
The resettlement is a process of selection and transfer of refugees, already recognized by UNHCR, from a third country considered the first country of asylum, to another State.
It is a voluntary process and a long lasting solution which, in a methodic and organized manner, represents, for the refugees, a safe alternative to the risks and irregularities in the access to host countries, in particular the dangerous Mediterranean crossings.
The team, led by SEF, took a multidisciplinary dimension, and the SEF component is comprised by one coordinator and three caseworkers carrying out the interviews and to which have been supported by a technical assistant for the collection of biometrics and the gathering of copies of the relevant documentation.
The work developed by SEF team began beforehand in Lisboa through the analysis of 34 processes forwarded by UNHCR, related to 123 candidates, among the wide range of over a thousand persons who may be resettled in Portugal in the course of this and the next year.
The number of candidates interviewed in this first mission has surpassed the one initially provided, given the interest expressed by the refugees in Egypt in starting a new stage of their lives in Portugal, and for the pretty effective running time achievement from SEF for carrying out the established tasks and deadlines, in conjunction with UNHCR in Cairo.
The interviews have been made with the purpose to ascertain the international protection status to issue, the internal security and of public order situations and, in addition, to know the candidates' profile and their motivation.
ACM has the responsibility to culturally guide the group of candidates, for the most part nationals from Syria and Sudan, crucial factor to let the candidates know the customs, habits, history, traditions, rights and their duties.
In its majority, it is family groups of six people at most. Overall it will be 138 people, of which 68 adults and 70 minors accompanied by their parents.
In the case of adults the majority is aged between 18 and 40, and in the case of minors the majority is aged under 15.
These refugees left their countries of origin for fear of being persecuted for ethnic, political, religious, sexual orientation nature and for armed conflicts in general.
For the operationalization of this program, Portugal will guide selection missions either in Egypt or in Turkey.
Last year, and following other processes, the European Commission has suggested to host into the European area at least 50 000 refugees under a voluntary program of resettlement from third countries (Africa, Middle East and Turkey). The proposal of the Commission provides the resettlements will occur during 2018 and 2019.
Las November, Portugal has reaffirmed the accession to the resettlement program for refugees, by announcing the country was available to host until 1.010 people until 2019.
With this availability effort, Portugal has become the third country in the world which hosts more refugees resettled from Egypt, right behind the United Kingdom and Canada.