Crisis at 'Ovcha Kupel' Refugee Center Sparks Slow Relocation

Politics | Author: Diana Kavardzhikova |March 13, 2024, Wednesday // 12:36
Bulgaria: Crisis at 'Ovcha Kupel' Refugee Center Sparks Slow Relocation

In response to the deteriorating conditions at the refugee accommodation center in Sofia's "Ovcha Kupel" district, the State Agency for Refugees under the Council of Ministers has announced a phased redistribution plan. Mariana Tosheva, head of the refugee agency, disclosed the decision during an extraordinary hearing in the National Assembly, held at the request of political factions BSP and the Revival party "Vazrazhdane" following recent clashes between Bulgarians and foreigners in Sofia.

Tosheva highlighted that the Ovcha Kupel Center, the oldest among them at 30 years, is in dire need of renovation. Notably, it houses an area for unaccompanied minors, adding urgency to the situation. "There is an effort to close a large part of it so that people can move to other centers. This week, 34 individuals will be transferred to the Banya center," she stated.

It's crucial to emphasize that these centers accommodate individuals who have applied for protection, not migrants, by European legislation adopted in Bulgaria. Upon arrival, refugees undergo screening for identification and medical assessments, after which the State Agency for Refugees designates their movement zones.

Security within these centers is entrusted to private companies selected through the Law on Public Procurement. However, issues have surfaced regarding the performance of these security firms, particularly at the Harmanli reception center and the Ovcha Kupel center in Sofia, in 2022. Despite monthly briefings, challenges persist, reflecting the need for improved oversight and support.

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Tags: relocation, camp, refugee, crisis

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