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.
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.
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.
Refugees landing in Bulgaria regularly spend their first days there in detainment camps. Often they have to stay there for months.