The new migratory flow from Angola to Portugal

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The current socio-political situation and the poor conditions of access to health and quality education in Angola are leading many people to emigrate to Portugal. And the demand for visas is growing.

Every day, flights from Luanda with many Angolans arrive in Portugal through the Lisbon and Oporto airports. Some come on vacation and on business, while others leave Angola for health reasons or in search of a better life.

Jorge Gonçalves Pereira: "I really decided to leave Angola to give my daughters a better quality of life
Jorge Gonçalves Pereira: “I really decided to leave Angola to give my daughters a better quality of life

Jorge Gonçalves Pereira, one of the new arrivals in Lisbon, is part of this new wave of Angolan immigrants. The 51-year-old radio broadcaster left his native country about seven months ago, after the loss, last year, of the uncle who raised him.

“From last year to here, that was all I could think about, emigrating. I really decided to leave Angola to give my daughters another quality of life. I’m here with three daughters, two minors and a 22-year-old adult. So I came here looking for better conditions for them,” she admits.

“It was unthinkable to leave Angola
Despite having had a difficult childhood, for Jorge Pereira “it was unthinkable to leave Angola,” but the political situation and, above all, the worsening of the standard of living, with the substantial increase in the prices of basic products, forced him to do so.

“What I went through in my childhood in Angola, my children cannot go through, especially the girls. They barely arrived, I enrolled them. They are studying. They are enjoying the education here and don’t even want to change districts. They want to stay here in Amadora,” she says.

Lígia Mendes, 47, was a journalist in Angola. She admitted, due to her immigrant husband, that “things would get better” with the election of President João Lourenço in 2017. With the death of her father, she decided to come to Lisbon with four children exactly five years ago, also in search of new opportunities.

Lígia Mendes recalls that she emigrated to Portugal and "only brought 100 euros in her hand
Lígia Mendes recalls that she emigrated to Portugal and “only brought 100 euros in her hand

“I was already thinking of emigrating because I saw the precarious situation I was living in. There were no leisure places to take my children, no zoo, and that made me think,” says Lígia, who gathered her three children and a nephew, applied for a visa, and emigrated.

“[It was] difficult because I only brought 100 euros in my hand,” she recalls.

Many reasons to emigrate
Lígia says that lack of adequate medical care was also a reason for her to leave Angola. “Not to mention also education, which is very precarious, coupled with other things,” she adds.

The integration process was not easy, but today Lígia lives as a family in a rented house, and her children are successfully studying. The nephew, who has already finished college, is now doing an internship to enter the job market.

Lígia does catering packages for aviation and Jorge Pereira works as a maintenance technician in a hotel. They say that, little by little, they notice changes in their lives according to the goals that brought them to Portugal.

Jorge admits, however, that he is not yet “well positioned.” “With time, with God’s faith, I believe I will get [something better], because here there are more opportunities for progression,” he says.

The new migratory flow from Angola to Portugal

And, for now – Lígia and Jorge add – the return to Angola is out of the question, unless it is to go and take care of some specific issue.

High demand for visas

DW spoke to these and other Angolans in Lisbon about the situation in the country and the long lines the Portuguese consulate in Luanda is waiting in daily to get visas. “Things have gotten worse socially; there are no jobs for young people. A lot of people are trying to come here,” says Lígia Mendes.

There are even pregnant women who, due to lack of adequate local service conditions, prefer to go to Portugal or neighboring countries to have access to a better delivery service, confirms Angolan economist Jonuel Gonçalves: “We have people like that at the border, in Namibia. They prefer to have their child Namibian. Let him become a Namibian citizen”.

The author of the book “Economy and Power in the South Atlantic”, among other titles, looks at this phenomenon, “which is not new”, with some apprehension, stating that, at this moment, the emigration of Angolans is difficult to explain, “because, really, the operating conditions of the Angolan economy would not point to such a massive exit as is happening at the level of cadres”.

“There is frustration”

“There is really a frustration on the part of several young cadres who feel that the country is not opening up the opportunities they need to realize themselves. And they already have a visual horizon that is very well informed. [They know that] there are other countries in the world where [they can] project themselves or at least have a set of living standards compatible with the training that [they] have acquired,” he evaluates.

Jonuel Gonçalves: "There is really a frustration on the part of many young people".
Jonuel Gonçalves: “There is really a frustration on the part of many young people”.

Jonuel Gonçalves believes that, although there is currently more freedom of information, Angola stopped “a long time ago” when it comes to opportunities and solving social problems, contrary to the slogan launched by President João Lourenço: “improve what is good and correct what is bad.

The economist says that this departure should serve as a warning to take into account the factors that lead to this new wave of emigration. On the other hand, he warns: “The more cadres leave, the more difficult it will be to implement economic programs with positive social effects.

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