More than 100,000 asylum seekers were granted protection by the European Union’s 27 member states during the course of last year, but only a couple of hundred applications were submitted to Lisbon authorities.
Portugal, with a total number of positive decisions of 100, continues to be amongst the least sought destinations for asylum seekers in Europe. Nonetheless, Portugal has an acceptance rate of requests that is substantially higher than most other EU states and much higher than the EU average.
Across the EU, just over 407,000 requests were filed last year, with around 102,000 being successful, translating into a quarter of all requests for asylum being positive. This was revealed by the European statistical agency Eurostat on the eve of World Refugee Day, which was celebrated this week on Thursday, 20 June and presided over by UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, a former Portuguese Prime Minister.
The number of requests has soared in recent years and is up 140,000 on 2009, when 267,000 applications were processed.
In Portugal, 295 requests were documented during the course of 2012, with 100 approved, a success rate of just below one in three, an acceptance figure which is consistent with applications in previous years.
Only three member states, Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia had fewer official requests in 2012.
However, Mónica Frechaut of the Portuguese Refugee Centre (CPR) in Lisbon, on Wednesday told The Portugal News that the country’s geographical location is one of the major reasons the country receives so few asylum requests, along with the fact that Portugal is not as well known by potential asylum seekers as Germany, the United Kingdom or France might be.
She added that while asylum requests failed to reach 300 in 2012, Portugal was receiving dozens of refugees who had been re-settled after initially seeking asylum in countries neighbouring their own war-torn regions.
So far this year 172 requests for refuge have been made, by asylum seekers of 27 different nationalities.
The majority of these requests came from Syrian nationals (69 requests), followed by Guinea Conakry (24 applications), and around 70 percent were made by men.
Six unaccompanied minors also sought asylum in Portugal during the course of 2013.
Meanwhile, and with 102,700 people granted protection in 2012 in the EU, there was a dramatic rise from the total of 84,300 in 2011.
In 2012, the highest number of people granted protection status was registered in Germany (22,200), followed by Sweden (15,300), the United Kingdom (14,600) and France (14,300).
All together, these four Member States accounted for nearly two-thirds of all those granted protection status in the EU.
The largest groups of beneficiaries of protection status in the EU were citizens of Syria (18,700 people or 18 percent of the total number of people granted protection status), Afghanistan (13,500 or 13 percent) and Somalia (8,100 or eight percent).
While hundreds of thousands more refugees and asylum seekers have filtered into the European Union the past year, tens of thousands of Portuguese left their country of birth in 2012, figures published on Tuesday show.
Overall, Portugal ‘lost’ 55,000 of its total population last year when compared with 2011, the Office of National Statistics (INE) said.
The INE explained the major causes behind Portugal’s dropping population are due to a cocktail of negative demographic factors such as a rise in emigration, a drop in births and more deaths.
Portugal continued to record a negative migratory balance in 2012, which was started the year before, the INE found.
While 14,606 foreigners immigrated to Portugal last year, the number of emigrants who left with no immediate intention of return rose to 51,928, while a further 69,460 Portuguese nationals said they intended returning to their country of birth within the space of one year.
The total number of inhabitants in Portugal on 31 December 2012 stood at 10,487,289 people, down 55,109 on exactly 12 months earlier.
Overall, this translates into a percentage drop of 0.52 percent after continuous growth recorded between 1992 and 2010, which averaged 0.29 percent annually.
In addition, men were outnumbered by almost half a million, with women totalling 5,491,592 as opposed to 4,995,697 men.
The number of births also dropped to below 90,000 for the first time since records began, while deaths were up almost five percent in 2012.
Nonetheless, life expectancy continues to climb. Women can expect to live to 82.59 while men are expected to reach an average age of 76.67.