Bordermonitoring Bulgaria moved to a new Webspace. There you can download our new report Trapped in Europe’s Quagmire: The situation of asylum seekers and refugees in Bulgaria. For further informations, please check our new page: bulgaria.bordermonitoring.eu
On April 21st, 2014 Border Monitoring Bulgaria (BMB) recorded yet another case of a push-back of a single Syrian mother with her four children (10, 17, 22, 24 years old) accompanied by severe police violence. Relatives reported that in their attempt to receive protection in Bulgaria, the family was forcefully returned to Turkey. After a day spent in Bulgaria, the family now finds itself in Turkey without their request for asylum having been respected, heard, or evaluated. BMB spoke to the victims who are now in a Turkish hospital treating their broken limbs and ribs.
In 2012, the Bulgarian lawyer Valeria Ilareva stated that Bulgaria is sending asylum seekers to Greece without registering them as subjects that have sought protection. On the 11th of November, 2013, Bulgaria „closed the border“ to Turkey by sending 1166 policemen at the border. In a statement, the authorities explained that in 24 hours 97 “illegal immigrants” have been prevented to enter the territory of the country and have been sent back to the Turkish border police. The group was stopped in the Strandzha mountains, the prevention of crossing over happens at the so-called „green border“. This could be considered a violation of the Non-Refoulement principle, yet no sanctions have followed. In the coming days 300 more police officers will be deployed at the border with all-terrain-vehicles and trained dogs. The UNHCR warned Bulgaria about this treating of the, mostly, Syrian refugees and is searching more information about these incidents. Meanwhile the construction of the border fence, that is 30 km long, goes further.
In the beginning of October 2013, the executive director of FRONTEX called the Bulgarian-Turkish border the „the most important land border in the EU„. In another interview, he admitted that – from time to time – the agency is involved in the Refoulement on migrants. The Interior Minister of Bulgaria said, that the agency will send 29 employees to deal with the situation at the border. He added that almost 100% of the people crossing the border are detained. The Bulgarian parliament just voted for a 30 km wall with 3 m high barriers on the Bulgarian-Turkish border. The Bulgarian Army began with the construction on the 24th of October 2013. UNHCR Bulgaria commented, that this may lead people to undertake more dangerous crossings.
While the European Commission (EC) is discussing if financial aid is to be relocated to Bulgaria in order to cover the growing expenses connected to the refugees fleeing into the country, the numbers of people that are crossing the border (usually the Turkish-Bulgarian border) is increasing enormously with each day. In the beginning of October 2013, the head of the State Agency for Refugees (SAR) was dismissed from his job. Among other things, he was accused for the overloading of the refugee camps and the incapability of the institution to cope with the increased number of asylum-seekers.