The escape route from Turkey via the black sea was rarely used in 2013 and 2014 before the so called refugee crisis in Europe reached its peak. Since the recent crackdown on the Aegean Sea route in the last months, more and more people are again trying to travel from Turkey via the Black Sea to reach Bulgaria or Romania. Since the beginning of 2017, already 649 migrants were caught, while they tried to cross via Black Sea. In addition, the case of 12 migrants, locked on a merchant vessel traveling back and forth between Istanbul and Odessa came to light.
The reason (among others) why people are still being ’smuggled‘ through Bulgaria is the official closing of the, so called, humanitarian corridor (also known as „balkan-route“) in March 2016, which was forced by the governments of several European countries. Without a legal corridor and being denied safe traveling such provoked ‚accidents‘ will happen again and again.
Photo credit: Bulgarian National Television (BNT)
Update: The UNHCR came out with a report in August which added together the numbers of interceptions at the Turkish-Greek and the Turkish-Bulgarian land borders from January-August 2017 and mentioned a quantity of 17,067 people. Only in August a number of 464 was intercepted at the Bulgarian-Turkish border by Turkish land forces.
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.
Every year several migrants die in Bulgaria on their way to cross Bulgaria’s borderland – especially in the winter period. Actually nobody knows how many people died all in all in Bulgaria’s borderlands in the last years, because there is no statistics available. Often migrants who passed through the region report about corpses, which they had seen in the woods. The migrants try to cross in the mountain region where there is no fence blocking the way. Bordermonitoring Bulgaria (BMB) calls the Bulgarian authorities to rethink their politics towards refugees as a whole and asks them additionally to collect statistics about the various deaths which happen in the border region.
This is the first human being who was killed by the European border system in Bulgaria, in 2017. Bordermonitoring Bulgaria (BMB) argues that the new installed European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which came into force on October the 6th 2016 at Bulgaria’s Kapitan Andreevo Border Checkpoint, cannot stop incidents like this. Therefore, it is tremendously important to create legal passages to prevent these kind of tragedies.
The following contribution is an English translation of a report, which was written by the human rights lawyer Valeria Ilareva, from the Foundation for Access to Rights (FAR) which was published in December 2016. The tranlsation was done by Daniel.
My day begins with a legal hearing at 9am. The case is of the more serious sort, but I’m eased by the thought that we’re at a judge. Meaning that among „the judges“ exist only a small number of actual judges – those trying to decide their cases objectively and without biases. Even in the event of a verdict to your client’s disadvantage, you nevertheless know that the hearing was carried out with humane attitude and the outcome of the lawsuit wasn’t predetermined. During the hearing the judge acts unusually irritated and reacts sharply on the preliminary submitted request for taking of evidence. She mentions that the most overburdened judges are facing disciplinary procedures for delaying lawsuits. I answer that I understand her and that I am doing everything within my possibilities not to slow down the case. I indeed understand her. At 11am the judges from the Sofia Regional Court hold a protest in front of the Supreme Judicial Council.