On February 22, at Palácio dos Marqueses da Praia e Monforte, Loures Municipality hosted a round table aimed to discuss recent Europe migrant crisis and the various challenges that emerge from this complex phenomena, taken into account the principles of peace, solidarity and openness, on which EU has been originally built.
The event convened some of the most relevant actors working in the field, such as the president of Portuguese Refugee Council, Platform for Refugee Support’s Coordinator, High Commissioner for Migration, Vice-President of Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation and a specialist on Middle East Politics.
Bernardino Soares, Mayor of Loures, opened the session saying that Loures City Council is strongly commited to contribute to better welcome refugees in Loures, namely by fighting against prejudice, eliminating stereotipes and myths that lead to misunderstandings about refugees and migrants. Mayor also highlighted the excelent work, made along the years, in the portuguese refugee’s reception center, located in Loures and stressed also that Loures is a welcoming municipality enriched by 122 nationalities.
High Comissioner for Migration, Pedro Calado, invited for moderate the session, enlarged the debate by saying that Portugal has been up to the challenge in what regards migrants and refugees hosting although being a small country.
José Goulão, journalist and european correspondent, stated that Europe is dealing with a “self-inflicted” problem and described current situation in Europe as a human tragedy that has to be contextualized in the framework of serious conflicts around the globe.
Teresa Tito de Morais, president of Portuguese Refugee Council, underlined the mutual benefits arising of hosting refugees and asylum seekers, both to refugees and the host communities.
Rui Marques, from Platform for Refugees Support, asked to the audience to imagine as refugees, having to leave their countries with nothing but a bag. “Everyone could be in that situation”, he said. From Rui Marques’ perspective this crisis is not a refugee crisis but the time and the opportunity to define who we are and which fundamental values define ourselves as a community.
Filipe Ferreira, Vice-President of Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation, argued aboutt the necessity to render assistance to all people in need, fighting also against the reasons that forces people to runaway from their countries.
Maria Eugénia Coelho, Councillor of Loures Municipality and Head of Social Cohesion Departament, concluded the discussion saying that we all can and should be “peace makers”, in order to build inclusive socities and guarantee sustainable development.