Some days ago, a Syrian family, who already received a status, was welcomed by the Catholic church in Belene in the north of Bulgaria. But this was a problem for Krasimir Todorov, a municipal councilor, who organized some locals to protest against the family and the priest Paolo Cortesi, who helped the family.
Last year, the Syrian family came originally via Greece within the relocation sheme and was coordinated from the State Agency for Refugees in Bulgaria (SAR) to the Catholic community of Belene. Now the family has to leave again, because of the tensions in the city of Belene. Fr. Cortesi announced, the church is going to stop its charity-activity in the town.
As of today, 07.03.2017,
every [charity] activities of the church are on hold. If you need anything contact the mayor of Belene whose duties are to take care of the citizens in need.
Father Paolo Cortesi
Recently, a Syrian family with a humanitarian status wasn’t given their documents by the mayor of Elin Pelin and several Bulgarian municipalities refused to accommodate two Afghan boys. The European Commission recently criticized Bulgaria for not fulfilling the quotes of the EU-relocation scheme. After Fr. Cortesi received several death threats and unknown people had announced to burn down the church, the Catholic Church decided to withdraw him from Belene. Some weeks later, the church burned actually and parts got nearly destroyed.
Bordermonitoring Bulgaria (BMB) insists that hate speech against refugees and their supporters shall be taken very seriously by the Bulgarian authorities. They shall ensure that refugees are treated in a humane, non-discriminatory and respectful manner. The everyday racism, which exists in large parts of the Bulgarian society, has to be opposed by the administrative bodies. The responsibility for sheltering people in need should not only be outsourced to the church or other organizations.