Bulgaria IntMin Reports 30 % Drop in Number of Illegal Migrants in 2016
Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova said on Wednesday that the number of illegal migrants detained in Bulgaria this year has decreased by nearly 30 % compared to 2015.
In an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) on Wednesday, Bachvarova added that the present trend is for authorities to detain not so large migrant groups attempting to cross from Bulgaria into Serbia.
Once detained, migrants are returned to the refugee centres, while those without registration undergo the full procedure, which includes establishing their identity, reviewing their requests for refugee status and interview.
According to Bachvarova, the active efforts at the exit of the border are preventing the emergence of new migrant route.
The interior minister assured that at present no direct risks exist, but Bulgarian authorities are closely monitoring the situation and have readiness to change the organisation in place for guarding the border.
She reminded that the fence at the border with Turkey is nearing its completion and the facility itself provides good protection.
Bachvarova also noted the good level of cooperation established with the army on guarding the border.
The permanent appointment of new border police officers to guard the border is forthcoming, which would lead to decrease in the number of interior ministry officials posted to the border.
As regards the statement of Turkish President Recep Erdogan that Turkey will suspend the readmission agreement with the EU if the process of visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens is not completed, she said that it is unclear whether such a move by Ankara will affect bilateral agreements.
The interior minister noted that the agreement between Bulgaria and Turkey on the readmission of refugees is outside the terms of the joint declaration between the EU and Turkey.
She expressed hope that this will not affect the bilateral agreement, having in mind the exceptionally constructive dialogue between Bulgaria and Turkey recently.
Bachvarova also commented the evacuation of the Idomeni makeshift refugee camp, which was part of the Greek policy not to leave large groups of migrants in single location.
She noted that in practice the Western Balkan migrant route remains closed and migrant waves are redirected to the south, but this trend could be reversed.
The interior minister added that migrants are seeking the most vulnerable points in the external borders of the EU in order to enter Europe.
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