Portugal says it is ready to welcome more migrants

3rd September 2015, Comments 0 comments

Portugal said on Thursday that it is ready to welcome "a greater number" of migrants than the proposed 1,500, as Europe tries to handle an overwhelming number of asylum seekers arriving on its shores.

Portuguese minister of regional development Miguel Poiares Maduro told a press conference that the response to the migrant crisis "cannot only be at a European level".

"Portugal will participate in the effort, and we are ready to take in a greater number" of people Maduro said.

"We hope that other European countries will also show solidarity," he said.

On Wednesday Portuguese foreign minister Rui Machete said that the 1,500 figure was "provisional" and depended on the efforts made by other European countries.

"If certain countries refuse to show solidarity, we will have to resolve the problem," said Machete.

The European Commission estimated in May that Portugal would need to welcome around 2,400 migrants.

Lisbon contested the number, saying it wasn't ready to handle so many migrants because of its shaky economy.

"We are ready to make sacrifices, but without jeopardising our economic recovery," Machete said Wednesday.

Portugal is still recovering from its 2011 financial crisis, when it received a 78 billion-euro ($87-billion) bailout in exchange for strict austerity measures.

© 2015 AFP

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