1. Detainment

In 2015 the arrests at Bulgaria’s borders increased. About 10,000 migrants were arrested at the Bulgarian-Turkish border and more than 11,000 at the border to Serbia. According to the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC), in 2015 “9,530 persons applied for asylum in detention facilities of the Migration Directorate“, operated by the Ministry of Interior (MoI). Already in November 2015, the authorities had detained more than 27,000 “illegal migrants“ (-> for more information on detention, see 4. Bulgaria’s Refugee and Detention Centers)

2. Deportation

In 2016, the BHC registered an increasing number of violent push-backs in 2016. In these cases, people were brought back to the neighboring countries of Bulgaria, without being allowed of asking for asylum. According to new statistics provided through the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), 624 people were transferred to Bulgaria under under the Dublin regulation. In the whole year of 2016, 16 people were transferred from Bulgaria to other countries, while Bulgaria received 10,377 requests regarding taking asylum seekers back.

3. Asylum Application and status

A total of 5815 asylum-seekers entered in Bulgaria in the period January-September 2013, the statistic illustrates an increase of granted refugee statuses in the following years: In 2014, according to the State Agency for Refugees (SAR), 11,081 people claimed asylum in Bulgaria – in the following year, 20,391 people asking for asylum. The UNHCR announced in December 2015, that „nearly 30,000 refugees“ reached Bulgaria in 2015. In 2016, the SAR listed 19,418 asylum requests but obviously lesser people obtained a refugee status. Until the end of January 2017, the SAR recorded 421 asylum applications.


Applications submitted

Refugee status granted

Humanitarian status granted

















Source: State Agency for Refugees (January 2017)

4. Bulgaria’s Refugee and Detention Centers

In Bulgaria there are currently three detention centers operating, which are located in Busmantsi, Lyubimets and Elhovo. Lyubimets (with 300 places) and Busmantsi (with 400 Places) are functioning as well as deportation centers. The average term of imprisonment in 2015 in Lyubimets was 18 (in the year 2012 it was 31) and in Busmantsi 21,6 days (in the year 2012 it was 61)1. For the detention centers the MoI is responsible. In February 2017, the current number of people who were living in “closed-type“ centers was 984.

All in all there are currently six refugee centers for refugees operating in Bulgaria. Three of them are in Sofia and three are located in the rest of the country. In February 2016 the capacity of the open camps was 5130 places: Banja (70), Pastrogor (320), Ovcha Kupel (860), Vrazhdebna (370), Voenna Rampa (800), Harmanli (2710).  Since the end of the year 2016, two reception centers in Harmanli, managed by the SAR, were existing as closed type centers. For the reception centers (closed and open type), the SAR is responsible. At the end of 2016, 400 Afghans were detained in closed reception facilities of the SAR. The BHC confirmed that they were later sent to open centers and one SAR reception center of closed type was shut down.

1 For detailed information read as well the report “Who gets detained? Increasing the transparency and accountability of Bulgaria’s detention practices of asylum seekers and migrants”, which was written by the Clinic for Refugees – Voice in Bulgaria (CLA) in 2016.


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