SEF refuses to consider cases of missing WYD pilgrims a threat


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The Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) has rejected the disappearance of pilgrims who entered Portugal for World Youth Day (WYD) as a security threat, the agency said today.

The newspaper Expresso reported today that thousands of pilgrims have not returned to their countries of origin after the event held in Portugal between August 1 and 6 and have taken the opportunity to stay in the country or head to other European states, but the exact numbers of these cases are unknown.

“The cases of pilgrims who stopped accompanying their respective groups were not considered to be a threat to the security of the event, so the adoption of measures to locate and control them was not justified,” SEF said in a response sent to Lusa, stressing that this would be “an interference in the freedom of movement” of these citizens.

However, reiterating explanations already given to the newspaper, SEF puts the situation into perspective and adds that any pilgrims detected in an irregular situation will be expelled.

“The procedure laid down in the Aliens Act will be adopted if the authorities identify any of these citizens who are staying illegally. In other words, the citizen will be notified to leave national territory within 10 to 20 days,” said the security service’s press office.

SEF also pointed out that these pilgrims “entered Portugal legally and enjoy freedom of movement in the Schengen area during the validity of their visas”, which were issued by the consular representations of Portugal and other Schengen states.

Without saying whether any expressions of interest have been received from these foreign citizens to remain in Portugal, the security service also said that “they will be able to leave via any external Schengen border other than the Portuguese one” or, “within certain limits, request an extension of their stay”.

According to the provisional figures released in the final balance of the WYD security operation, a total of 1,362,272 people were checked between July 22 and August 6 at Portuguese borders, where documentary controls were temporarily reinstated on the occasion of WYD.

Iris Lavan
Iris Lavan
With a background as a consultant in the medical industry, Iris Lavan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Portugal Pulse. Iris also runs a company in Tel Aviv offering marketing, business development, content creation and public relations services. She holds a degree in economics and management, giving her a solid grounding in business strategy and financial planning. Iris' commitment to Portugal Pulse is reflected not only in her consulting career, but also in her impact on the Portugale media landscape in Israel. She was an interviewer for Hadshot Portugal חדשות פורטוגל, a media outlet that broadcasts news about Portugal in Hebrew, where she provided valuable information on current affairs, healthcare and the economy. Since July 2023, Iris has also been part of the Portugal Pulse team.

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