JRS Portugal -
The economic downturn brought certain repercussions for
groups of migrants in Portugal, namely with access to
employment and health. This led to an increase in
returns, and the number of migrants relying on social
security. According to the Board and Aliens Service (SEF),
Portugal saw a gradual decrease of migrants in the last
three years. In 2008 SEF stated there were 435,000
regular immigrants living in Portugal.
An increase in xenophobia and insecurity on the part of
Portuguese people, was offset by the successful adoption
of a plan for the promotion of integration for migrants.
The plan has seen positive results, offering assistance
to all migrants, including access to healthcare or
social support, regardless of their status in Portugal.
A new Asylum Act was also implemented in 2008. This act
was designed to facilitate the circulation of asylum
seekers on Portuguese territory, better training and
access to the labour market, and to create better asylum
April 2008 a new board was elected and changes were
introduced to the organization of JRS Portugal, namely
the creation of areas that will promote a
multidisciplinary approach. This brought major benefits
for migrants, since receiving support in a holistic
manner enabled them to rebuild their expectations, and
consequently, to become more resilient in overcoming
JRS Portugal supported approximately 6,700 people in
2008. As in 2007, the majority of JRS’ beneficiaries
were migrants from Eastern European countries (Ukraine,
Moldavia and Russia); from Portuguese speaking countries
in Africa (Angola, Guinea, etc.); and from Brazil.
Migrant Integration Area
During 2008, the social aid office provided emergency social
support to undocumented migrants, the homeless, migrants with
alcohol/drugs problems, single mothers/fathers, and the
unemployed (totaled 1,291 appointments, 60% women/40% men. Some
of these appointments were made outside of the centre (on the
street, hospitals, etc.).
The social aid office was also involved in several partnerships
in order to support integration, encourage reflection and plan
The UNIVA project, in collaboration with a number of NGOs in
Portugal, provided support for young people and adults in
helping them to solve integration and employment problems. In
2008, UNIVA held 2,832 interviews, with 796 of those interviews
referred to jobs. The main referral areas for employment were
construction, housekeeping and care services.
The Local Centre for Migrant Support offered information and
material to assist, welcome, assist, and integrate migrants. The
centre offered information on legalisation, renewal of
documents, applications for Portuguese nationality, education,
right to health and voluntary return. In 2008, 786 individuals
visited the Local Centre and appointments were made in
neighbourhoods where migrants live.
The Local Centre was also an information source for many
Portuguese employers. In order to help migrants to create their
own business, partnerships were established for micro-credit
with the organization ANDC and the CGD bank.
Pedro Arrupe Centre (PAC)
received 39 new immigrants, seven of which were children, from
15 different Portuguese speaking countries, various
East-European countries and other countries again. Throughout
the year 67 people lived in PAC, with eight of these voluntarily
returning to their country of origin; 29 left having achieved
their life project, that is, having an autonomous life.
Migrant Health Area
Approximately 50 migrants were seen by two volunteer doctors,
who provided 111 appointments to immigrants in poor health.
Although the aim of medical support was to help irregular
migrants, there was a significant increase in the number of
regular migrants who also depended on the service.
JRS provided 292 sessions of psychological support to 70
migrants. Of these, 80% were from Portuguese speaking African
countries and Brazil, with 65% aged between 26 and 46 years. The
main psychological problems presented by these migrants were
symptoms of depression (25%), anxiety (28%),
loneliness/isolation (24%), grief and loss (13%), and suicidal
Data shows that the distress experienced by most of these
migrants are mainly caused by external factors such as
unemployment, poor living conditions, illegal status, isolation,
etc. Such situations led these migrants to experience a sense of
hopelessness, and thus, to doubt their own capacity to overcome
JRS is also responsible for the psycho-social support of all
immigrants staying in Unidade Habitacional de Santo António (UHSA)
in Porto. This is accomplished through a social team composed of
a psychologist (full time), a chaplain, cultural mediators and a
group of volunteers, namely a law firm which provides legal
UHSA is a temporary centre for irregular migrants who receive a
removal order from Portuguese territory. This centre is managed
by the Portuguese Border and Aliens Service. In 2008, around 250
people passed through the centre, mainly from Brazil, Morocco
and Ukraine (this number represents a decrease of 20% on 2007).
There were 273 appointments with migrants in need of medical
aid. This support was provided on the basis of migrants’ social
and financial vulnerable condition, regardless of their
residency status. The number of migrants depending on medical
aid increased considerably over the past year.
Project Development Area
Recognition of Qualifications
JRS Portugal ran a number of projects aimed at the recognition
of qualifications of migrants . In 2008, 749 highly qualified
migrants were followed up in their recognition process, most of
them having degrees in health care and engineering.
2008 was also the year of the re-edition of the Recognition for
Qualification of Doctors Project. This project, partnered by JRS-Portugal,
the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Health Ministry, aims
at the integration of 150 doctors in the Portuguese health care
system until June 2010.
Communication, Education and Training
project (responsible for communications, training and project
development) focused on schools, with the goal of promoting
attitudes of respect and openness to other cultures and raising
awareness of migrant issues. The project is to be implemented in
50 schools in regions with higher rate of immigrants.
JRS Portugal participated in several debates and conferences, a
number of which were attended by the national media. A quarterly
newsletter was distributed to 1,500 people, along with a radio
broadcast on migration every week.
Mr Andre Jorge, Country Director
Serviço Jesuíta aos Refugiados, Rua 8, ao Alto do Lumiar Lote 59
Tel: +351 93 754 1620 - Tel/Fax: +351 21 754 1625
To send an email, just replace the (a) with @.