Unaccompanied minors inside Bulgaria’s detention centers / Drills at the border to Greece

The Bulgarian Ombudswoman, Maya Manolova, announced this week that unaccompanied minors are placed in Bulgaria’s detention centers with other adults, “who are not members of their families or authorized companions“. The announcement was part of a report about the results of evaluating detention facilities and jails in Bulgaria. Already in November 2015 Valeria Ilareva, from the Foundation for Access to Rights (FAR), warned that after the new asylum regime, “detention of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers is permitted“.

Last weekend, drills of the Bulgarian police and army took place at the border-crossing point to Greece near Kulata, which is hard to secure. 400 police staff and 50 soldiers took part, in addition 2 helicopters, a water cannon and amored vehicles were used during the exercise. The authorities deployed also “refugees“, who were throwing stones at the police. For the training, the border crossing Kulata-Promachonas was temporally closed. Two days later, it seemed like nothing has ever happened on the spot and, the situation was very calm and no special police, fence or additional cameras were seen at the border checkpoint.

The prime minister, Bojko Borisov, stated that refugees should enter a “certain territory“ from official border checkpoints, to ask for asylum in a legal way in Bulgaria. This seems quite unrealistic as in the last year many people failed, after they tried such thing. Nevertheless, such an ‚offer‘ could maybe seen as an option for thousands of refugees who are waiting in Idomeni and other relocation camps in Greece, at the moment. After the total closing of the, so called, Balkan route Bulgaria is even more under pressure, in being a compensatory-route for the fleeing people. Recently, the number of border crossings to Serbia via Bulgaria and from Greece to Bulgaria increased.

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