Three EU Countries 'to Send 7500 Refugees Back to Bulgaria'
Germany, Austria and Hungary would like to return about 7500 people with a refugee status to Bulgaria, media reports suggest.
Officials from the three EU member states have already referred to the Interior Ministry in Sofia to inform in about the migrants, Bulgarian daily Pressa wrote on Sunday.
As many as 180 of them were extradited in 2014, but others are also likely to be returned.
Last summer, Germany told Bulgaria it would send back some 3000 people with either humanitarian or refugee status who had illegally reached its territory. Berlin later renounced the idea.
In theory, the refugee status, unlike the humanitarian status, allows its bearer to travel in the rest of the EU.
But current rules state that a refugee who has been registered in Bulgaria but chooses to move to another EU country is to be sent back.
Under the Dublin Regulation, it is up to the EU member state which has served as an asylum seeker's entry into the EU to protect the seeker and look into their asylum claim.
Hoping that rules would be changed Sofia sped up in 2013 procedures granting humanitarian status, a move which drew criticism from politicians and experts.
Regardless of rules most refugees and bearers of a humanitarian status are determined not to stay in Bulgaria, a country they mostly perceive as a stop on their way to Western Europe. Neither has Sofia adopted a comprehensive integration strategy that could offer migrants any prospects in Bulgaria.
Earlier this week Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kuneva called in a meeting with Interior Minister Veselin Vuchukov and Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev to discuss the risks of a new refugee tide similar to the one that flooded Bulgaria in the autumn of 2013.
Authorities in Sofia are now reportedly concerned about how to accommodate the migrants if they are returned, since there are is only room for 2000 more people in the respective centers. At the same time under Bulgaria's legislation the centers cannot serve as housing for migrants who have already been granted status.
The State Agency for Refugees (DAB) recently warned that an increased migrant flow should be expected when temperatures go up in the spring.
This comes days after Nikolay Chirpanliev, who headed the DAB, was dismissed on December 29.
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