Portuguese PM says country ready to welcome 2,000 more refugees

17th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

Portuguese premier Pedro Passos Coelho said on Thursday that the country is ready to welcome "at least 2,000" more refugees in addition to the 1,500 planned, as Europe deals with its worst migration crisis since WWII.

Coelho said during a radio debate with his opponent in next month's election, Antonio Costa, that the country is ready to welcome another 2,000 people and "more if necessary".

"I hope we will reach an agreement quickly," Coelho said, referring to the EU's plan to relocate migrants, whom he said should be welcomed "with dignity and in secure conditions".

The new figure is still below the 3,074 refugees that the commission wants Portugal to take as part of its major plan to relocate asylum seekers in the EU.

Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Rui Machete said Portugal was "ready to make sacrifices, but without jeopardising our economic recovery".

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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