29 September 2020
Bulgaria has agreed to accept 70 unaccompanied minors affected by the fire in the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesvos. However, conditions for migrants and refugees are problematic - the use of detention is widespread, and racism and xenophobia are deeply rooted in Bulgarian society, argues Milana Nikolova.
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"During a phone conversation last week, the Greek Alternate Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy Giorgos Koumoutsakos and the Bulgarian Minister of Interior Hristo Terziyski agreed that Bulgaria will accept 70 more unaccompanied minors by the end of 2020.
Unlike Greece, which is currently hosting approximately 50,000 refugees, and Turkey, which hosts more refugees than any other country in the world, very few migrants have chosen to seek protection in Bulgaria, and even fewer have been granted the right to remain. According to Eurostat, in 2019 the country granted asylum to just 885 people. Although modest, it does represent an increase on 2018.
Even with the notable decrease of the refugee migration flow, detention remains a common practice. Conditions in detention camps have been described as substandard and there have been instances of abuse and discrimination, believed to be used as a deliberate method of deterrence, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has found.
The country with the lowest GDP per capita in the EU has also spent over 85 million euros on building a 146-kilometer razor-wire fence along its border with Turkey since 2014.
The reasoning behind Bulgaria’s reluctance to accept more refugees is similar to that given by a number of other emerging Europe countries, including the Czechia, Hungary, and Poland."
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