Azores prepared to take in 250 – 500 refugees from Ukraine

  • Lusa
  • 14 March 2022

The Azores regional government assured that the region is "prepared" to welcome between 250 and 500 refugees from Ukraine.

The vice-president of the Azores regional government on Monday assured that the region is “prepared” to welcome between 250 and 500 refugees from Ukraine, claiming that it will be the executive leading the process, in collaboration with institutions.

“We are prepared for when they arrive here. The government has collaborated, without making publicity, helping some institutions, namely in the transportation of goods to Ukraine”, said the vice-president of the Azorean Executive, Artur Lima, speaking to journalists, on the sidelines of the inauguration of the remodelling works of “O Carrocel” nursery, in Angra do Heroísmo.

On Saturday, a family of Ukrainian refugees arrived on the island of São Miguel, to be settled in a house-made available by the municipality of Ponta Delgada.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the arrival of this family, the vice-president of the Association of Immigrants in the Azores (AIPA), Leoter Viegas, defended the need for the “regional government to create a systematic plan involving various bodies” to welcome citizens from Ukraine.

“Four have arrived today. But tomorrow, more could arrive and I don’t know who to contact to solve the problem. The Region has to create a plan. We as an association have some proposals to make to the government”, he pointed out, adding that AIPA “is working on a plan” for integration, having already established contacts with various entities.

Questioned about these declarations, the vice-president of the regional government, who is responsible for the areas of Social Solidarity and Immigration, said that the executive will lead the process.

“With all due respect to AIPA, the government does what it understands and not what AIPA wants. It is necessary that the institutions understand who will lead the process. The government is the one asking for the collaboration of these institutions and not the other way around,” he said.

“There is here an inversion of roles that came from the past and will not continue in the future,” he added, stressing that “with this government, AIPA is not in charge.”

According to Artur Lima, on Tuesday there will be a meeting between the President of the regional government and the several departments of the Executive involved in the process of refugee reception, but the regional government “is well prepared”.

He pointed out that “who makes the first contact” with Ukrainian refugees that arrive in the region and provides basic necessities is the Social Security Institute of the Azores (ISSA).

Artur Lima said that the Azorean executive has already contacted the immigration and borders service, SEF, and partner institutions and has conditions to accommodate, “with comfort and dignity”, between 250 and 500 refugees.

“We have everything prepared for when necessary”, he reinforced, adding that response for orphaned children is also planned.

So far, few families have arrived in the Azores and most have not required accommodation.

“The families that have arrived had families here and are well integrated without any problems”, said the Vice-President of the regional government.

He said he had no information that more Ukrainian families were expected to arrive in the region in the coming days.

Russia launched on February 24 a military offensive in Ukraine that has caused at least 564 deaths and more than 982 wounded among the civilian population and caused the flight of about 4.5 million people, including 2.5 million to neighbouring countries, according to the latest UN figures.

The Russian invasion was condemned by the international community in general, which responded by sending arms to Ukraine and strengthening economic sanctions against Moscow.