Portugal has temporarily granted all migrants and asylum seekers across the country full citizenship rights, giving them complete access to the country’s health care and removing all restrictions to their access to public resources and facilities.

The decision will “unequivocally guarantee the rights of all the foreign citizens” meaning they are “in a situation of regular permanence in National Territory,” until June 30, said the Portuguese Council of Ministers. Claudia Veloso, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs said “people should not be deprived of their rights to health and public service just because their application has not yet been processed,” adding that in these exceptional times, the rights of migrants must be guaranteed.

Portugal’s decision was welcomed on Monday by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic.

“(It is) a good practice to protect vulnerable people and society in response to the pandemic,” Mijatovic wrote on her Twitter account.

President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa called the Covid-19 pandemic “a true war,” which would bring true challenges to the country’s “way of life and economy.” The President also praised the behavior of Portuguese citizens, “who have been exemplary in imposing a self-quarantine,” reflecting “a country that has lived through everything.”

The decision is a spectacular act of solidarity in a time of crisis. The Portugese government has recognised that the war against Coronavirus can only be won when humanity stands together and that none of us are safe, unless we all are.

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