The number of refugees taken in by Portugal and who subsequently have left the country, has doubled in the past two months.
The man in charge, Ministerial Assistant in the PM's cabinet, Eduardo Cabrita, acknowledges that Portugal "is not a preferred destination" for refugees and that it has to "better inform" refugees.
Of the 1,255 refugees so far received under the EU quota system, 474 have left. This 40% disappearance – or ‘secondary movement’ - figure is one of the highest in Europe.
Of the 474 mostly Syrian refugees, 147 have been detected and some detained by authorities from other countries, mainly Germany and France, but also Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands.
If refugees leaves their host country, they loses rights such as social security, and access to education and health care.
Under the European refugee legislation, these run-aways are supposed to be returned to their receiving countries but currently 326 are still missing with only one being sent back to Portugal.
These ‘secondary movements’ are of concern to the Europe-wide Counter-Terrorism Coordination Unit which monitors refugees in Portugal, ostensibly to spot instances of radicalisation.
‘Difficulties of integration’ has been the number one reason for refugees leaving the country and the high drop-out rate has rate merited special attention from security forces whose job is made more complicated.
At least the government admits the situation exists and realises that there is a problem. Eduardo Cabrita’s office acknowledges that "our country is not the preferential destination of applicants for international protection."
Cabrita’s plan is to distribute more information about Portugal in the Refugee Reception Kits both in the holding camps and when refugees arrive here.
The Left Bloc MP, José Manuel Pureza, questioned Eduardo Cabrita about whether the current housing model, which disperses refugees across the country (currently to 91 municipalities), is the most effective when trying to integrate refugees.
Pureza said that there are situations of discontent and disappointment in the refugee influx and the MP worries how any returning refugees will be treated - "what will be the attitude of the Portuguese State?"
The Left Bloc has submitted a draft resolution recommending the government produces a report as, "We are coming to the end of the first 18 months of the programme.”
It does not need a government report to list the reasons refugees do not stay in Portugal and by producing one, the government also will be listing the reason that hundreds of thousands of Portugal’s young workers also have left their home country - jobs, money and professional development.