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 27000 “illegal migrants“.

2. Deportation

According to the former chairman of the State Agency for Refugees (SAR), 174 people were deported back to Bulgaria in 2014 – 212 people were deported back to Bulgaria from other European countries in the the first eight months of 2015. A statistic (done by the BHC) about all the ‚incomings‘ and ‚outgoings‘, under the Dublin-regulation until September 2015 could be examined here.

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 SAR, 11081 people claimed asylum in Bulgaria – 5162 refugee statuses and 1838 subsidiary statuses were issued. Already 16283 applications for asylum were submitted until October 2015. The UNHCR announced in December, that „nearly 30,000 refugees“ reached Bulgaria in 2015. Until the end of January 2016, the SAR registered 1,966 asylum applications.

Year Applications submitted Refugee status granted Humanitarian status granted
2013 7144 183 2279
2014 11081 5162 1838


Source: State Agency for Refugees (December 2015)

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.

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).

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.


Map by 7Letters Collective