Twenty-three Eritrean refugees arrived in Portugal from Tunisia on Monday this week, coinciding with the Loures-based Refugee Reception Centre (CAR)’s fifth anniversary.
Five family units including eleven children were welcomed into the centre along with four solo adults. One of the units is a single-parent family – a mother with two children. Most of the refugees will at one point or another have been exposed to situations of violence and torture.
They arrived at the CAR on Monday evening and were greeted with a commemorative dinner of chicken and rice cooked by Teresa Tito de Morais, president of the Portuguese Refugee Council (CPR), to celebrate the centre’s fifth anniversary. The newly-arrived refugees joined the CAR’s long-term residents, directors and CPR workers.
Built with funds from the EU Equal initiative and inaugurated on 30 October, 2006, the centre’s longevity is ensured mainly with financing from the European Refugees Fund (FER). Twenty-five percent of its funding is co-participated by the Ministry for Home Affairs (MAI).
On Thursday Portugal’s State Secretary for Home Affairs paid a visit to the Bobadela-based centre, which has a capacity for 34 refugees.
In related news, twenty Libyans among whom a 14-year-old child who were injured during the uprising arrived in Lisbon on Sunday night to receive medical attention. They were placed in air force and army hospitals where they will stay for one month.
Most of the Libyans have bullet wounds that require surgery “but none are life-threatening”, said Air Force Colonel Vítor Santos, who lead the operation from Tripoli.
The operation was carried out in response to a request for help from Libya, made about a month ago to the Portuguese authorities. While Libya footed the bill for the operation to be carried out, Portugal will pay for the victims’ 30-day stay, “which will cost around €200,000”, Defence Minister José Pedro Aguiar-Branco said.
Saoud Eltayari, advisor for the Libyan Embassy in Lisbon, has thanked Portugal for its help saying he understood “the economic situation of European countries”, but that “we will keep any help that could help save these wounded in mind, given that there are no better conditions in Libya.”
Mr. Eltayari stressed that the gesture would not be forgotten by the Libyan people and that “there will be many opportunities for positive and constructive collaboration between the two countries, within various realms and various sectors.”