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4 May 2021

Catarina Demony, Reuters

Portugal: Spike in COVID-19 infections among migrant workers revives fears of rights abuse

"COVID-19 cases among Portugal's migrant fruit-pickers revive rights abuse concerns", 4 May 2021

Portugal's government said on Tuesday it would protect the rights of migrant fruit and vegetable pickers and keep them safe from COVID-19 after a wave of infections in the sector revived concerns over the conditions they live in. As Portugal entered the final phase of easing a national lockdown last week, sanitary cordons were imposed in the southern municipality of Odemira, where hundreds of plastic-covered greenhouses rely on migrant labour to operate...

...To tackle the issue, the government has temporarily taken over a private eco resort in Odemira, where migrants considered high-risk contacts can self-isolate. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will be transferred to local lodging...

...Many of the migrant workers - from countries such as Nepal, India and Bangladesh and also eastern Europe - live in packed living quarters with few amenities.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa has said the conditions migrants live in are a risk to public health and a "blatant violation of human rights".

Rights groups say authorities have for years turned a blind eye to problems migrants endure, from unpaid work to having their identity documents confiscated...