Welcoming the Unwelcomed: the Role of Portugal in the European Refugee Crisis

Bárbara Matias

Welcoming the Unwelcomed: the Role of Portugal in the European Refugee Crisis
Matias, Bárbara
Thesis Advisor(s):
Nettelfield, Lara J.
M.A., Columbia University
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Persistent URL:
Geographic Area:
Europe--European Union countries
This thesis examines the role of Portugal as asylum destination among the twenty eight European Union Member States, and why it has been plagued by high abandonment rates in the context of the ongoing refugee crisis. The European Union faces unprecedented numbers of incoming refugees which have strained arrival countries and overwhelmed popular destination countries. This paper explores how an unequal regional distribution of refugees developed in the EU and why Portugal has become a transit country hub for secondary movements. Portugal presents an exceptional political willingness to take in more refugees and a civil society eagerness to welcome those in need of international protection. Yet this is matched with inexperienced an integration system and lack of refugee social networks vis-à vis other EU Member States which hinders its exposure as preferred country for resettlement or relocation. The study looks to understand what factors into refugees’ decision-making in order to contribute to the field in better understanding of the dynamics of EU asylum flows. I argue abandonment rates are high in Portugal because the country does not have international appeal as host country in comparison to other EU Member states. Both due to an inexperienced integration system and a weak refugee network of social connections, which are reciprocally influenced and prompt secondary movements. This research seeks to ultimately showcase the strengths and weaknesses of the Portuguese reception and integration system in order to increase the appeal of Portugal as a well-established destination country.
Human rights
Asylum, Right of
International relations
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Suggested Citation:
Bárbara Matias, , Welcoming the Unwelcomed: the Role of Portugal in the European Refugee Crisis, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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