MIGRATION IN PORTUGAL: A CHALLENGE TO NGO´s
PROF. ROSÁRIO FARMHOUSE - LISBON
In the second half of the 20th century, immigrants to Portugal came mainly from the African Countries of Portuguese Expression (PALOPs), but in the 90s and in the early 21st century Portugal received large numbers of immigrants from other nationalities, particularly from Eastern European countries and Brazil. Between the year 2000 and 2001, the number of foreigners legally residing in Portugal doubled, which posed renewed challenges to the Portuguese society: amongst others, the inclusion of immigrants in the labour market; the integration of immigrants into the national services of health, education, social security; homelessness; conviviality between people from different cultures. The fact that a large number of these immigrants come from countries that have no strong historical, cultural and linguistic ties with Portugal is a new factor in the complexity of the integration effort.
The Portuguese state has by now taken several steps to meet the new challenges, but non-governmental organisations have played a very relevant role too. With the aim of contributing to a happy integration for immigrants living in Portugal, the Jesuit Refugee Service has created a number of suppor services: psychological and social support; legal advice; job and accomodation-finding; Portuguese language courses; food and clothes aid for the neediest; medical aid; recognition of qualifications of immigrants; awareness-raising of migrant issues through the media and at schools. All our services are free and most of them are carried out by volunteers.