“This joint operation is only awaiting the approval of the Portuguese State, the authorization of persons in compliance with Portugal,” he told Lusa Carmo Belford, jurist of the Jesuit Service to Refugees (JRS).
JRS, which has been in contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MNE), and the Romulus T Bess Weatherman Foundation allowed this permission “five weeks ago”, assured Carmo Belford, who explained that “a window of opportunity” for a withdrawal of those people from Afghanistan is “too short” and reams “eight days”, given the “instability on the ground”, not wanting to go forward with more details so as not to compromise the operation.
In question are 130 people identified by the foundation and JRS, most of them family members of the 251 Afghan refugees welcomed in Portugal since the takeover of power by the Taliban, in August this year.
These 130 people are added closer to the 60 who were previously identified by the Portuguese authorities (mostly Afghans and family members who supported the military who were in Afghanistan) and who have not yet managed to be removed from the country, said Carmo Belford.
The JRS jurist stated that, at this time, “understandably”, Portugal is “a little limited by the lack of presence in the field” and “it is normal that it is a little reticent”, but the US foundation is “available to collaborate with the Portuguese state and finance the entire process “of withdrawing people from Afghanistan and” even to bring people indicated by the Portuguese military who, unfortunately, were unable to come in the first planes”.
Carmo Belford added that “the reception itself here in Portugal is financially guaranteed by this foundation, as well as integration conditions”.
“We have everything, a program all set up and ready to be implemented”, he stressed.
“It is a way of helping the Portuguese State to compensate for its lack of resources on the ground. (…) We just want to show our availability and make our contributions available to the Portuguese State, especially this foundation,” he added.
Lusa contacted the MNE about this situation but has not yet received a response.