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.
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.
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.
At the moment, camps in Bulgaria are overcrowded, people are sleeping in corridors or even in the streets, because there is no place for them. According to the Bulgarian Red Cross, 1500 refugees are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, and a further 500 are in vulnerable condition. More than 2000 refugees were detained, only in the month of September 2013.