On 19th of November, refugees in Harmanli have gone on a hunger strike in the „closed type“ camp of Harmanli, among them more than 100 people, including children. Refugees tried to prevent a truck to enter the camp. Several refugees in Busmantsi and Lyubimets are striking with them. They are protesting against the miserable conditions, the lack of information and strained relation with security guards and dilapidated equipment. The camp was built for 450 people, but as of now more than 1200 inhabit it – according to the State Agency for Refugees (SAR) 1296 people are living there, but many more are still waiting to be registered. Many of the refugees are living in tents now. The filthy three toilets and eight showers are definitely not enough. The people there say that you can only get out of the camp if you have some money, the refugees suffering from the cold.
The last refugee hungers strike in Bulgaria took part less than a month ago. As of currently new strike has swept the detention center in Busmantsi, near Sofia. A few days later, refugees went on a hunger strike in Lyubimets and Harmanli, too. The main demand of the people in the detention centers concerns the slow proceeding of their asylum application. Yet, they also criticize the conditions in the facilities, the brutality of the security and nonetheless, the fact that they are being detained. For right now, the capacity of the camps that belong to the State Agency for Refugees and the Bulgarian Interior Ministry in Sofia has been exceeded by 714 places. A number that is expected to grow.
Refugees, who stayed this year in the ‚closed camp‘ Lyubimetz said, that they have been beaten by camp officials. The situation in the camp is like a prison, stated a member of the UNHCR – the same goes for the Detention Center in Busmantsi. 2013 several hunger strikes were declared in these centers in June, August and September.
Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee reports from Bulgarian detention center in Busmantsi.