Draft Order in Bulgaria to Create 4 Zones of Movement for Refugees
A draft order in Bulgaria, which is open for public consultation until June 25, will create four zones of movement for refugees, according to the territorial departments of the State Agency for the Refugees where they applied for asylum, quoted by the Independent Balkan News Agency.
Asylum seekers will not be allowed to leave their region of registration until their asylum procedure has been completed. Placement in “closed-type centres’’ is also foreseen for those who violate the borders of the designated zone of movement more than twice. Bulgaria's State Agency for the Refugees, which has proposed the measure to the government, says the idea is to “improve administrative control during the procedure for granting international protection”.
The step was made possible by changes to the Law on Asylum and Refugees, enacted in December 2016, which toughened state policy towards refugees. In September 2016, Bulgaria introduced closed centres for asylum seekers who violate public order or who it is thought may conceal themselves from the authorities. Before that, detention was allowed only for illegal immigrants facing deportation. Rights groups have criticised the plan to limit the free movement of refugees, calling it disproportionate and a violation of human rights, although EU directives allow for such measures.
According to the State Agency for the Refugees the measure is designed to improve controls over refugees who often migrate from one reception centre to another or leave the country illegally. The designated zones will give refugees access to education, healthcare, the labour market and social services, the source said.
The latest data of the State Agency for Refugees show a drop in the numbers of asylum seekers hosted in state-run reception centres to 2,119 by May 25. Over 9,000 procedures out of 11,890 that the agency reviewed in 2017 have been cancelled, most probably because the asylum seekers left the country before being granted protection by Bulgaria, as that could limit their chances of living in Western Europe.
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