Bulgaria's Capital Stops Accepting Refugees
The Bulgarian capital is very special regarding the refugee influx, as 66% of all refugees in the country have been accommodated in Sofia's shelters, Mayor Yordanka Fandakova says.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry announced that the capital will no longer accept refugees precisely over the above, and all newcomers from now on will be directed to other locations in the country.
Over 2 000 refugees are accommodated in the three Sofia shelters – in the districts of Ovcha Kupel, Voenna Rampa and Vrazhdebna.
Fandakova says the increased crime rate near them is caused by the deplorable conditions inside – lack of heating, food, and space, as 30 people share one room.
She stressed the City Hall firmly opposes the opening of new shelters and rather wants improvement of conditions in the existing ones.
Bulgaria has no problems with providing enough food for the increased number of refugees in the country, according to the new Head of the State Refugee Agency, Nikolay Chirpanliev.
Chirplanliev thanked the many non-profit organizations for their help in providing food for the refugees, and stressed that BGN 65 a month per refugee as spending money was offensively inadequate.
According to him, the most pressing issue was the need of repairs at the refugee centers in Voenna Rampa and Vrazhdebna.
Chirpanliev noted that the centers for accommodation of asylum-seekers were filled to the top with clothes now, and urged Bulgarians who wish to make donations to get in touch with his institution to find out what items are really needed.
He announced the opening of two new centers in the towns of Momchilgrad and Harmanli in southern Bulgaria, stressing reports about threats for national security over the refugee wave are completely unfounded.
The Agency Head further shared another idea – to hire new staff at Labor Bureaus across the country to deal only with asylum seekers – registration, interviews, and translations in order to shorten the asylum application procedure.
Meanwhile, the Bulgarian Red Cross announced they are astopping their campaign for collection of clothes as they now had plenty, but stressed they still need consumables, including for personal hygiene, diapers, and food.
Bulgaria has the capacity to accommodate about 5 000, while some 6 000 refugees have arrived in the country since the beginning of 2013, with local authorities expecting the number to exceed 11 000 by the end of the year.
The total capacity of 3 350 in the shelters under the authority of the Interior Ministry and the State Agency for Refugees has been exceeded by 129 beds.
Bulgaria is the gateway to the European Union for refugees fleeing Syria via Turkey, many crossing the border illegally to seek asylum.
The country has asked for EU aid in order to deal with the ongoing refugee influx.
The Bulgarian Red Cross is raising funds for providing accommodations for refugees. Citizens can give BGN 1 by sending an SMS to the number 1466 available for all mobile networks in Bulgaria.