04:37 GMT +322 November 2017
    People hold posters welcoming refugees during a rally in support of migrants and refugees as part of the European Day of Action in Lisbon (File)

    Portugal Plans to Double Its Intake of Refugees

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    Portugal wants to double the number of refugees it accepts and boost their integration process, President of Portugal Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa told Sputnik on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

    UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) — When asked whether Portugal plans to accept more refugees, De Sousa said, "We are. At the same time, we're working on prevention and at the same time receiving more refugees, doubling the number of refugees we have accepted inside the European Union, and [then] integrating them."

    "It’s vital and they spoke of the program we have implemented concerning Syrian refugees studying in universities and technical schools; we're not only [offering] basic [education] but also tertiary [education] so that we can prepare those generations for future in their own countries. So we are doing everything needed to make integration fully successful for the refugees," the president added.

    On Tuesday, world leaders from the United States and six other countries gathered at a summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly where they pledged to increase refugee aid by $3 billion, double resettlement, and enhance schooling and employment opportunities.

    "Portugal is really playing an important role in receiving refugees from Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Italy, thousands of refugees coming from Near East, Middle East and Northern Africa," De Sousa noted. "We think it is a very important challenge for humanity; that is why the summits of yesterday and the day before yesterday are very important for the future of the UN acting on such complex but vital field."

    Europe has suffered a massive refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants fleeing crisis-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa to escape violence and poverty. The EU border agency Frontex detected over 1.83 million illegal border crossings in 2015, in contrast to some 283,000 in 2014. In order to solve the problem, the European Union adopted quotas system last September, which suggests relocation of 160,000 asylum seekers across the bloc.


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