Share & Connect
On December 10, at Lisbon International airport, unexpected passengers arrived with the flight TP202 by TAP airlines, the national Portuguese airlines.
The flight was a scheduled flight of the route between Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau and Lisbon, Portugal’s capital. Onboard were 74 Syrian asylum seekers with fake Turkish travel documents.
Lusa, the state-owned news agency, reported, according to Maria Teresa T.M. Mendes, the President of the Portuguese Council for Refugees, that the arrived asylum seekers consisted of 21 children, 15 women and 35 men.
They took a complex route starting from Turkey to Morocco, then to Guinea-Bissau, and finally Portugal. Portugal was not planned to be the final destination for them, but the first European airport for the refugees before moving to the northern European countries. Portugal is not a popular place for asylum seekers and refugees due to financial crisis in the country.
The Portuguese daily Diario de Noticias reported that the plane’s crew was forced by the Guinean authorities to transport the passengers out of the country, although they were using fake passports.
Another Portuguese newspaper, Puplico, has reported that the Syrian refugees will be hosted in accommodation by the social security department and two civil society organizations. The organizations are Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa and Colónia Balnear O Século
The asylum applications of the passengers will be examined individually by the government agency of Aliens and Borders Service (SEF) which is the authority that grants or refuses the asylum application in Portugal. The decision of each application might take several months. The accepted applicants might be given either a refugee status or a humanitarian protection status, while the rejected applicants have to submit their appeal directly to SEF. If the application is rejected for the second time by SEF, a second appeal request can be submitted to the administrative court. The decision of the administrative court is final and cannot be appealed or rejected neither by the applicant nor SEF.
After the incident, TAP airlines decided to suspend the route between the two cities for further notice. According to its official website, the suspense of the route will be valid until the full assessment of security situation in Bissau’s airport.
The civil war in Syria has caused a large flood of refugees, not only to the neighboring countries like Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon but also to other Arab countries and European countries. According to the UN Refugee Agency, the number of the Syrian Refugees has exceeded 2 million.
The recent snow storm has complicated the plight of refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Especially those who are living in tents without real shelters from the snow, rain and wind.
The closing door policy by the European Union (EU) against the refugees has let Amnesty International to issue a stern brief, criticizes this policy. Because of the policy the EU countries are only hosting around 12.000 refugees which is less than 0.5 percent of the total Syrian refugees. Cyprus is the closest EU country to Syria.
Image credit: The Syrian Revolution 2011 via Facebook