More than 900 Brazilian immigrants asked for support to return to Brazil | Immigration

Requests for support for the voluntary return program for immigrants in Portugal broke records in 2022, with 1,051 applicants, most of them Brazilians, said this Friday the head of mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Lisbon.

“The numbers give a record number of subscribers to the program [ARVoRe, Apoio ao Retorno Voluntário e à Reintegração de imigrantes no país de origem]. We had 1051 subscribers in 2022, and of the total returnees we speak of 394 people”, said Vasco Malta, in statements to Lusa.

“For Brazil, more specifically, there were 913 registrations, which is also a very significant record, and 350 returned to Brazil”, even last year, advanced the person in charge.

Thus, the Brazilian community is the most representative in terms of requests for return, but Vasco Malta also highlighted “the presence of Timor-Leste, whose migratory flow in the year 2022 was significant”, and, according to his expectation, so it will continue in 2023.

For Vasco Malta, this could mean that Brazilians, the largest immigrant community in Portugal, know better and use the program more, but it could also mean, according to information gathered by the IOM, that “there is in fact a set of factors” — unemployment, difficulties in accessing the labor market and housing and in regularizing the residence card — which will have contributed to this increase in the number of requests.

According to the official, it was not only the number of requests that increased, but also “surprisingly” the cases of people in extremely vulnerable situations, living on the street or victims of domestic violence.

“What I would also highlight in 2022 (…) is the number of vulnerable cases, that is, we are talking about a very significant number of people who reached us in 2022, in the last line, situations of homelessness, of domestic violence, human trafficking,” he said.

For the official, there is in 2022 “an abnormal number of situations of extreme vulnerability, which have always happened over the years, but never at such a high level”.

And, although there are no statistics on nationalities in these cases, the head of the IOM in Portugal estimated that, with Brazilian nationality occupying almost 90% of what is the return project in 2022, “there will inevitably be cases of extreme vulnerability among Brazilian citizens”.

Last year, 11 cases were referred to the IOM of victims of networks trafficking in human beings, revealed Vasco Malta. Not being a very significant number, it is, in the opinion of the official, “quite substantial”.

“What I know is that we have witnessed, in the context of trafficking in human beings, a multiplicity of cases, that is, not only more organized networks, but also situations of trafficking in human beings where there is not this sophistication of networks we are used to,” he added.

From IOM numbers, Vasco Malta highlighted that among immigrants who request return, more than 30% do so in the first year after arriving in Portugal, another 37% return in the second year of stay and more than 30% apply after more two years as immigrants in the country.

What this means, for Vasco Malta, is that “clearly” there is “a decision to migrate to Portugal that is not informed, is not prepared and not being prepared in detail by the people leads, from the outset, to greater vulnerability”.

Regarding the reason for this trip not being well prepared, the IOM official considered that one of the factors that explain it “is that there are people who, using social networks, informal networks and videos on YouTube, build an image about Portugal that is not corresponds to reality”.

Therefore, Vasco Malta advised anyone who wants to emigrate “to find out what the average salary is in Portugal; if in the areas where you want to work you can have work or not; the average costs of living in cities, housing, food, energy”.

As for the growth in the number of requests from East Timorese, the IOM official explained that many who came to Portugal looked at the country as “a transit point”, with the UK as their final destination. However, after Brexit “the difficulties of entering that country increased, even for those with Portuguese nationality”, explained Vasco Malta.

In addition, the Timorese community in Portugal also increased due to socioeconomic conditions in Timor-Leste, he added, and there were those who were enticed by a group of companies that did not fulfill their offers.

All this meant that “the numbers of Timor-Leste’s subscribers in the return project increased dramatically between 2022 and 2023”, and the organization is “working so that they can return in a regular, humane and orderly way” to their country.

The ARVoRe program (Support for Voluntary Return and Reintegration) of the IOM is co-financed by the Portuguese Government, through the Foreigners Border Service and by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union.

In 2021, the program registered 288 subscribers, of which 219 were Brazilian immigrants, and a total of 113 people returned to their country of origin, of which 93 were Brazilians.

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