How we are welcoming Ukrainian Refugees in Portugal

7 de March, 2022

How we are welcoming Ukrainian Refugees in Portugal

Reading: 7 min

The Portuguese people are famous for being welcoming and respectful of different cultures. They are also a people of solidarity, as has been proven in past emergencies, such as the tragedy caused by cyclone Idai in Mozambique. Or in the support to Afghan refugees. Or even in national tragedies, such as the forest fires in Pedrógão Grande. In the case of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, the situation could not be different. The government and civil society joined forces to provide all the necessary support to the Ukrainians. In addition to internal measures, Portugal also joins the platform WeHelpUkraine.orgcreated by a Portuguese professor who lives in London. The site is a meeting point between those who need accommodation, medicine or job offers, with those who are available to give such help. The country is also preparing a series of integrated measures to meet the needs of the thousands of Ukrainians who have fled their country.

Simplifying Access Laws to the Country

The Government is expediting the entry and integration of Ukrainians seeking asylum in Portugal. It recently approved measures for this population. The Government has also announced that it has not set limits to receive those who want to leave Ukraine. More than 2,500 Ukrainian citizens have already requested asylum from Portugal to flee the war. The simplified procedure is similar to that already used in 1999 in the Kosovo crisis and also for Guinea Bissau:

  • It is not necessary for the person to prove that they may be in danger. Given the situation, no such demonstration is necessary;
  • Ukrainian citizens or citizens with other nationalities will be received, provided that they can prove that they are relatives, spouses or de facto unions of citizens with Ukrainian nationality;
  • Integration can be done in any way: with passports of various kinds (electronic or not) and also of undocumented persons;
  • Security checks will be carried out in relation to internal security issues and the risk to internal security. The Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) will consult the Schengen system databases;
  • Only persons who pose a risk to internal security, have committed crimes against humanity or have committed serious crimes in their country of origin will not be entitled to protection.

How to apply for temporary protection in Portugal?

Covered requests can be made in person or digitally, inside or outside the national territory. One application must be made for each potentially covered individual.
The Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) is providing face-to-face assistance in these locations:

  • Gabinete Asilo e Refugiados (GAR), Rua Passos Manuel, n.º 40, 1169-089 Lisbon;
  • SEF regional offices or Border Post, whose contacts are available on the entity’s website;
  • SEF service counters exclusively for Ukrainian citizens. The locations and times are available on the ePortugal, but may be subject to change, which will be posted on the SEF Facebook page;
  • at Lisbon Airport at the counter exclusively dedicated to Ukrainian citizens arriving to Portugal by air. During the initial period, the counter will operate every day of the week, between 9 am and 5 pm.

The Foreigners and Borders Service is the entity responsible for processing applications on the following numbers: +351 217 115 000 or +351 965 903 700. There is also the contact e-mail: [email protected]. In addition, two addresses have been set up to receive requests for assistance: [email protected] or [email protected].

Legalisation of Refugees

As soon as they arrive in Portugal and submit the application for special protection, Ukrainian refugees automatically receive their tax identification number (NIF), Social Security identification number (NISS) and National Health Service (SNS) user number. Citizens of working age are also registered at the Employment and Professional Training Institute (IEFP). The aim is to guarantee the right to the same benefits offered to Portuguese citizens in terms of employment, access to health care, social protection and education.
These and other legal information are available on the page that the Ministry of Justice has created specifically for Ukrainian citizens.

Job Offer

Ukrainians arriving in the country also rely on the availability of jobs on a proprietary platform. More than seven thousand companies have already offered vacancies. Companies can express their intention to recruit Ukrainian citizens by filling in this form. These job opportunities are disseminated to Ukrainian citizens through the platform WeHelpUkraine.org platform.

Welcoming Families

Dozens of platforms have been created for the reception of refugees, with many Portuguese volunteering to help. Through the platform WeHelpUkraine, widely publicised in the country, the Portuguese can register to receive Ukrainian families in their homes. And not only that, it is possible to help with transport, psychological support, medical services, legal advice, among others.
A similar proposal is Shelter4US. On their website you can fill in a form and offer help with shelter, transport or baby sitting. It is even possible to take in pets from Ukrainian families. O AirBnb has also created a page aimed at members of its community who want to help Ukrainians. Portuguese volunteers are present on all these platforms.

Offering Portuguese Courses

Considering that the social and professional integration of Ukrainians may depend on learning the Portuguese language, the Institute of Employment and Professional Training (IEFP) is also organising courses on Portuguese as a Host Language.

Public Accommodation

Temporary public accommodations have been set up all over the country. The Union of Portuguese Misericórdias has also appealed to the Santas Casas to help welcome refugees. It already has the support of some of the group’s entities. In Alentejo, the Misericórdia of Portalegre disclosed that it is available to receive between 20 and 30 refugees from Ukraine, more precisely women and children. Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Beja has also made itself available to welcome and insert refugees from Ukraine in the job market or schools.

Lisbon City Council has opened the Monsanto Municipal Cafeteria to help Ukrainians who are in the city. It also plans to create an emergency reception centre at the Lisbon Municipal Police Headquarters. The municipality has set up a telephone line to answer those who want to ask for or offer help.
Phone: 800 910 111
Email: [email protected].

Vila Nova de Gaia
In Gaia the hostel of the Parque Biológico was made available for the same purpose. The space has capacity for around 50 people. It provides educational, food and psychosocial support to displaced families and children.

Setúbal Municipality informed that it has the availability and logistic capacity to receive refugees in municipal facilities, as soon as necessary.

Medical Support

The Portuguese Medical Association is organising a platform of Ukrainian, Russian and Portuguese doctors available to support war refugees.
There are about 330 Ukrainian and 150 Russian doctors in Portugal. All are available not only to translate medical reports, but also to treat refugees who come to Portugal.

Legal Support

The Bar Association has also recently released a list with the names of volunteer lawyers to provide free legal assistance to Ukrainian citizens who are in Portugal. There are already more than 700 professionals registered, coming from various Regional Councils of the country. And there is still room for more lawyers who want to help. If you wish to volunteer to provide this “pro bono” service and join this list, please contact the Portuguese Bar Association at [email protected]. It has also published on its website a summary of relevant information to guide Ukrainian citizens and lawyers who wish to provide pro bono service.

Help From Civil Society

From north to south of the country, schools are holding campaigns to collect goods and food to help Ukrainians, in a wave of solidarity and friendship that brings together pupils, teachers and parents. Collection points are scattered everywhere. Churches and community centres are also gathering supplies.
The Portuguese post office – CTT – is also collecting donations. You just have to go to the website and fill out a document that should be printed and pasted in the boxes you’re going to donate, informing what kind of items it contains. The company informed that it is articulating with several logistical partners to send the donations by land to the border between Ukraine and Poland.

Creation of a Portugal-Ukraine Platform

Inaddition to the WeHelpUkraine site, the Portuguese Government has developed Portugal for Ukraine, an initiative that aims to bring together all ongoing actions regarding the conflict in Ukraine. This site provides a form where displaced people can ask for help in the areas of humanitarian support, integration and reception in Portugal. The content is available in Portuguese and English.

A Association of Ukrainians in Portugal is also creating a digital platform to coordinate the aid made available and meet requests for support in connection with the invasion of Ukraine. The aim is to structure all the aid as best as possible.

Progressive Cession of Trade Links with Russia

Several companies in Portugal are interrupting trade relations with Russia. This is the case of Galp Energia, which has suspended the purchase of oil products from Russia. The company announced that it will purchase vacuum gas oil (VGO) from alternative suppliers. It also intends to operate the refinery at a limited pace, although always ensuring the supply of diesel to the Portuguese market.
Fuel retailer Prio also announced that it will exclude Russian companies and products with Russian origin or directly related from its suppliers.



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