Bulgaria OKs Return of 3613 Migrants from Other EU States
As many as 3163 migrants with either humanitarian or refugee status are to be sent back to Bulgaria after Sofia has issued the respective number of approvals, government officials have revealed.
At a meeting Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kuneva held with her colleagues overseeing the interior, defense, regional development and agriculture ministries held Monday, it was also reported that Bulgaria had received 7851 inquiries from over twenty EU member states about migrants residing on their territory, 6873 of them demanding the return of migrants to the country. The reason is that Bulgaria is the member state where the asylum seekers were registered.
The figures roughly coincide with reports that emerged over the weekend about the prospective return of more than 7500 migrants to Bulgaria at the request of Germany, Austria and Hungary.
Many migrants from the Middle East and North Africa enter Bulgaria via Turkey, but tend to consider the country only a stop on their way to Western Europe.
Under the Dublin Regulation, however, the first country to receive asylum seekers and register them is responsible for their protection and integration.
Monday's meeting ended with an agreement that an action plan would be unveiled in a fortnight to enhance security along the borders and boost Bulgaria's capacity to withstand possible pressures caused by a renewed flow of asylum seekers. Ministers had warned they were expecting a new tidal wave of migrants in the spring of 2015, according to the daily Sega.
Workgroups will also gather on Tuesday to discuss legal and technical issues related to both the completion of a fence and the assistance that the Defense Ministry could provide to help step up border security.
Earlier, Interior Ministry's proposal that the military deploy personnel to help border police was met with resistance by defense officials, who were reported as saying that any kind of troops buildup at the southeastern border (where the risk of migrant flow is most serious) could be interpreted as an act of aggression by neighboring Turkey. They also point to the fact that Bulgaria's legislation assigns the obligation to patrol along the border to Interior Ministry personnel (police officers), and not to the Defense Ministry.
A 30-km border fence was erected in 2014 between the southeastern villages of Lesovo and Kraynovo, but a number of officials, such as the Interior Ministry's Chief Secretary Svetlozar Lazarov, have insisted the border might be extended along the entire border which would make it 100 km longer. The proposal has now also been put forward by Interior Minister Veselin Vuchkov, but is still to be discussed by experts.
On Tuesday Lazarov also told the Bulgarian National Radio that a total of 184 refugees or bearers of a humanitarian status had been sent back to Bulgaria in 2014.
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