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One Nation in Europe Wants Refugees But Is Failing to Get Enough

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One Nation in Europe Wants Refugees But Is Failing to Get Enough

Portugal has offered to host 10,000 of the refugees who’ve landed on Europe’s shores from the globe’s war-torn zones. So far, it has taken in 234.

Not because it doesn’t want to. Rather, because few have come knocking at its door.

“It’s difficult to quickly find refugees that can come to Portugal,” President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said on Friday, according to news agency Lusa, as he met migrants in Evora, southern Portugal.

As the refugee crisis stretches the struggling Greek government and rattles politics in Germany and beyond, Portugal’s willingness to share the burden isn’t getting a lot of attention. While the country blames a lack of coordination in Europe and administrative roadblocks, the contrast between its economic performance and that of Germany, which admitted more than 1 million migrants in 2015 alone, may also be playing a role.

Although the Portuguese economy recovered in 2014 and accelerated last year after shrinking for three years through 2013, joblessness remains high. Unemployment, which has eased to 12.3 percent after peaking at 17.5 percent in 2013, is still almost triple the German rate of 4.3 percent, and that may continue to dent Portugal’s allure.

“It’s not a very appealing destination given the unemployment rate,” said Rui Serra, chief economist at Caixa Economica Montepio Geral in Lisbon. “It’s easier for an immigrant to go to the center of Europe where there is a more concentrated market than in some countries of the periphery like Portugal. In the center of Europe income per capita is higher.”...

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