Al Jazeera: 'In Bulgaria, Refugee Struggle Underlines Elusive European Dream'

Views on BG | September 18, 2015, Friday // 10:52
Bulgaria: Al Jazeera: 'In Bulgaria, Refugee Struggle Underlines Elusive European Dream' Photo by Bulgarian News Agency/AP

Most refugees and migrants quickly find out they don't want to stay in Bulgaria and this adds to Europe's problem of controlling mass migration, Al Jazeera America has noted.

"The EU's poorest country has accepted an asylum seeker quota, but few want to live with so few social services," it goes on.

A special report published Wednesday tells the story of Noel Kouaho's "epic, two-year journey from C?te d’Ivoire to refuge" in Bulgaria - one that "cost him seven of his toes".

After a cold winter which resulted in the amputation, he is bent on leaving after getting his papers. "There is no work, no help, no money. Everyone is leaving here," he is quoted as saying.

AJ America reminds that Bulgaria was among the first Southeast Europe countries to receive hundreds of asylum seekers back in 2013, at the time Kouaho arrived. At the time thousands of Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis and people from African countries kept streaming into Bulgaria for months, causing the number of 1000 migrants coming per annum to swell drastically.

However, conditions in the country, which is one of Europe's weakest economies (and the EU's weakest" with average monthly salaries of around USD 400 and unemployment at 10%, combined with mass emigration of Bulgarians many of whom have also been looking for better economic opportunities in the west.

Hundreds of people avoided being registered in 2013 in order to seek asylum elsewhere in Europe. For those who remain, the conditions in terms of both accommodation and aid are unfavorable. Once being granted status, they have to seek housing on their own and find work, something that presents a tough challenge.

That is why hundreds leave the country and are smuggled over the border to Serbia, AJ notes. UNCHR data is cited which shows some some 6800 migrants entered without applying for asylum, whereas 5000 migrants crossed out of Bulgaria illegally as of September 2015.  

Al Jazeera's full text is available here.


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Tags: UNCHR, Bulgaria, refugees, migrants
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