A project for the integration of refugees and/or migrants in rural Portugal
We are welcoming four families of migrants and refugees in the village of Ima, municipality of Guarda. We provide a house that they can call home, and work on a regenerative agricultural project.
IOM reveals that the number of international migrants reached 272 million in 2019. According to UNHCR, of this total, 79.5 million are forcibly displaced and 26 million are refugees resulting from persecution, conflict, and other serious human rights violations. Regarding the Portuguese context, in 2019, there were 590,338 foreign citizens with residence permits, according to SEF. Of these citizens, the largest community in the country is Brazilian, followed by Cape Verdean, British, Romanian, Ukrainian and Chinese. ACM tells us that in recent years there has been a loss of relative importance of migrants from the PALOP, since many of them have acquired Portuguese citizenship. In 2019, Portugal also received 1,849 requests for international protection: an increase of 45.3% compared to the previous year.
In Portugal there was a population decrease of 271,337 inhabitants between 2011 and 2019, according to Pordata. The municipality of Guarda, where LAR’s pilot project is being developed, is one of the most affected areas of this decrease, having its population dropped 8.3%.
Alongside the process of depopulation, the progressive abandonment of land in rural areas is being observed.
The problems of conventional agriculture are also known, where the preservation of the landscape and biodiversity are perceived with disregard.
This is why LAR project emerges!
LAR project is created as a solution to the above-mentioned global and local challenges. Developed by the Association in Support of the Inclusion of Immigrants and Refugees (AIIR), LAR is a second line response as it integrates people who have already finished their 18 or 24 month integration programs in Portugal. We seek to select families of refugees and/or migrants who have a taste for agriculture and the rural environment, facilitating to newcomers the possibility of settlement in villages that are at risk of depopulation.
LAR provides the welcomed families a home and supports all family members in their professional, educational and socio-cultural integration.
LAR is the answer to one of the great challenges of being a refugee or migrant in a new country: to see it as a new home. In the village of Ima, 14km from the city of Guarda, four formerly empty and uninhabited houses were rebuilt. The houses, together with the welcoming spirit of the residents of the village, are the first foundations for the construction of a stable and long-lasting social context.
The first two families have already arrived in Ima, the village where the pilot project is taking place! Since their arrival, they are taking the first steps of integration and getting used to life in the village. From learning Portuguese to establishing the agricultural project, there are many activities that have been paving the days, always with goodwill and interest in the learnings that the rural world has to offer.
Currently, the process of selecting the other two families to join the project is underway. They will be welcomed in the coming months, and will go through a similar process to the one being developed now for those already living in Ima!
We provide a gradual integration, primarily focused on socio-cultural inclusion in the local environment, close to the community and the countryside. To this end, we have created numerous activities and projects to facilitate this approach, such as activities related to interculturalism and intergenerationalism.
We are also concerned with the “oldest” residents of Ima. We want to provide psycho-social support to local communities and encourage active life in advanced age.
In Ima, we are creating an agricultural project that provides a member of each welcomed family with an immediate work possibility, in order to plant the seed of their future on the land of the host country.
This is an environmental regeneration project that includes the production of vegetables and other differentiated products, such as saffron, goji and black currant. These will be produced in an integrated production mode and sold in local markets and large scale retail stores. In addition to the agricultural production, the project foresees an area for reforestation of native trees of the region and fruit trees. Throughout the development of the project, we intend to involve the community and thus promote environmental education activities.
At the same time that this agricultural project is being developed, LAR will accompany the other family members’ entry into the labor market, supporting them in the whole process of their labor insertion.
To be a solution for refugee and/or migrant families who have completed their integration programs in Portugal, offering them conditions and tools to choose this country as their long-term home
Ensure work, training and housing for each member of the families who are without prospects of income or stable and lasting housing
To enable the settlement of young people in villages with low population density of rural Portugal
Tackling land abandonment in the perimeters of villages in the interior of Portugal
Incorporate sustainable agriculture models in order to preserve natural resources and biodiversity
People at the center
Support refugee and/or migrant families in establishing themselves in an autonomous and self-sufficient manner in the medium and long term
Deconstruct prejudices against people and their cultures, fight misinformation and all forms of discrimination
Being part of the solution for the repopulation of rural Portugal
Develop a replicable model that can be adapted to other contexts and allow refugee and migrant communities to integrate into their host communities
Our work is based on principles of equality and non-discrimination, and this fair and inclusive treatment of all people in LAR contributes, in our view, to sustainable development in the long-term. We always try to convey our message in an accessible way, and we are interested in hearing constructive suggestions from those who want to share them with us!
Who we are
Interpreter, Mediator and Counselor