New report available

PDF download

PDF download

Trapped in Europe’s Quagmire: The situation of asylum seekers and refugees in Bulgaria is Bordermonitoring’s report on Bulgaria. The making of the report was undertaken by four independent researchers and follows structural conditions in the country which place asylum-seekers and refugees in an extremely vulnerable position as well as their current precarious situation.

The themes covered in the report are as follows:

  1. Push-backs and violence at the Bulgarian border
  2. From overcrowded camps to the production of homelessness
  3. Integration in flux: a path to exclusion in a state of chaos
  4. Xenophobia and racists assaults: institutions, far-right, street violence
  5. Asylum procedures: the legal experts’ opinion
  6. Europe’s most unwanted: restrictions on free movement

It is available as of now: PDF download.

Bordermonitoring advises against the conduct of Dublin returns to Bulgaria until the country can ensure dignified treatment of all asylum-seekers and refuges on its territory. Bordermonitoring continues to closely follow the developments in Bulgaria.

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Is Bulgaria violating the Non-Refoulement Principle?

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.

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Hungerstrike, revolt and xenophobia

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.

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Europe is building a new wall at the external border

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.

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NGO calls for resignation of the Council of Ministers

In Sofia, in the three shelters Ovcha Kupel, Voenna Rampa and Vrazhdebna, there are more than 2000 refugees now. Some places are in a very bad condition, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) said, one could find fleas, lice and worms. There is already a health risk of hepatitis and dysentery. The Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reports, that there are already diseases spreading, like for instance tuberculosis. The mayor of Sofia said, there are deplorable conditions in the camps – as a lack of heating, vacancies, food and space – 30 people have to share one room. The interior minister claimed, that he won’t accept any more refugees in the city.

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