Bulgaria: Still going to be a poor guardian of European’s External Borders

At the beginning of May 2016, Sofia and Ankara signed a protocol about returning migrants from Bulgaria back to Turkey from June the 1st, who crossed the border in an “illegal“ way. Since this protocol was never released, it is not clear what this means for the estimated 50 migrants, which are still arriving in Bulgaria on a daily basis to transit the country to Western Europe. The Signing was accelerated after the EU and Turkey sealed their controversial deal on returning refugees (on March 18 this year), which forced Brussels to make serious concessions to Ankara in an attempt to halt the migrant flow. Until now, it is not really clear if this deal could be implemented completely, as the European Union has already thought about a temporally suspending of the Visa agreement and Turkey for his part thought about opening its borders officially.

So far, 5305 applications for asylum were submitted in Bulgaria until April 2016. But nearly 3/4 of the procedures are being cancelled at the moment, because the migrants continuously disappear. There are different reasons for that, one could be the fact that  the State Agency for Refugees (SAR) is still not giving the 65 Leva monthly to the registered refugees, but instead of the institution could be strongly criticized of recently throwing a big amount of food away. The quota-system (concerning relocation from other European countries, e.g. Greece) on which Bulgaria agreed, foresees that Bulgaria has to host 1.200 asylum seekers under such regulation. Until now, Bulgaria took four refugees via the relocation system, one of them has already escaped to Western Europe.

Meanwhile a video of the group Vassil Levski Military Union – Shipka Bulgarian National Movement (воински съюз левски – бно шипка) and a news article had emerged, which was done by a German journalist. In the video the interviewed member of the nationalist group confirms again the cooperation with the Bulgarian Border Police, which was already criticized by many human rights organizations. The Bulgarian parliament did not criticize such an agreement, but recently gave its confirmation 1.5 Million Euros more in regarding to protect its borders with technical equipment, especially in the Maritsa (Evros) region.

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