The death of Rebin Mitran

The young man in the photo who is raising up his fist is Rebin Mitran, an Iraqian Kurdish citizen who got a refugee status in Bulgaria. He died on the 1st of March in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, very likely because of the low temperatures, which were minus 18 degrees during that time. He was found lying at Botevgradsko shose Blvd. in a very bad condition. He was transported to the municipal Crisis Centre for Homeless People in Zaharna Fabrika district where he died later that night.

Rebin Mitran during a Food Not Bombs action (Foto: Galina Lacheva)

Public servant in the center claims that an ambulance has been dispatched on the street where Rebin was found but did not take him to an emergency room. There are also two conflicting versions on what happened in the center: the one claims that a call has been made for an ambulance but it did not came; and the other claims that Rebin died right when the ambulance arrived. The police is still investigating the case.

One fact is that for a longer time Rebin did not have the money for picking up his identity documents from the authorities. He did not speak Bulgarian, and he was not fluent in English language. Rebin did not have an income and no home, he used to sleep at friends’ places or on the street. Rebin had health problems, e.g. he was struggling with his mental health, the autoimmune disease psoriasis and problems with his leg on which he could not take care. Only volunteers from different groups and organizations helped him from time to time.

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) called the situation “zero integration year(s)”, since the first National Program for the Integration of Refugees (NPIR) was adopted and applied until only the end of 2013. Since then no integration support program is existing. In the last report of the BHC one could read the following:

This resulted in extremely limited access or ability by these individuals to enjoy even the most basic social, labour and health rights, while their willingness to permanently settle in Bulgaria was reported to have decreased to a minimum.

Rebin was one of many refugees in Bulgaria who could not cope with the harsh situation there. Without social money or the lack of health care his condition got worse day by day. Rebin said he had relatives in Germany and he thought about living there. Besides that, he had a mother in Iraq, who died a few months ago.  His story shows very clearly that having a refugee status means not much in Bulgaria.

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