Bulgaria Registers Triple Increase in Number of Iraqi Asylum-Seekers
Since the beginning of the year, more than 11 000 requests for temporary stay in Bulgaria have been submitted, which represents nearly a double increase compared to 2014.
This was announced by the chairperson of the State Agency for Refugees (DAB), Nikola Kazakov, in an interview for private bTV station on Tuesday.
More than 4600 of the requests were submitted by Syrian citizens, while nationals of Iraq and Afghanistan submitted roughly the same number of requests, respectively 2600 and 2500.
There has been an almost triple increase in the number of Iraqi citizens seeking asylum in Bulgaria.
Kazakov noted that not all of the applicants for asylum were economic immigrants and reminded that part of northern Iraq is affected by military activities, so people fleeing war are eligible to be granted refuge in Bulgaria.
However he admitted that along with the refugee masses, economic immigrants also crossed into the country.
He explained that during the interview, which each migrant undergoes, the reasons for one's trip become clear.
Kazakov noted that Bulgarian authorities deny asylum to economic migrants and redirect them towards the Migration Directorate of the Interior Ministry.
According to him, the capacity of the accommodation centres for refugees is filled at 48 % and if the need arises, the agency could provide up to 6500 beds.
Kazakov explained that it is clear how the quota of 852 refugees, which has been assigned to Bulgaria by the EU, will be distributed.
He revealed that only 3 % of the refugees in Bulgaria have higher education, while 59 % of all asylum-seekers are in an active working age between 18 and 34 years old.
Despite the campaign on the enrollment of refugee children in Bulgarian schools, only eight out of 893 children were enrolled.
According to him, the main reason for the low enrollment rate is the lack of desire among refugees to stay in the country.
In his opinion, the main reason that Bulgaria is not flooded by the influx of refugees is the strict guarding of the country's borders and the registration performed by Bulgarian authorities.
Thus refugees are reluctant to continue into western Europe as they risk being returned to Bulgaria at a later stage.
The second main reason for the relatively calm situation with the refugees is the social welfare system in Bulgaria and its weakness.
Kazakov expects the number of refugees seeking asylum to increase in the winter months, with the requests for asylum possibly reaching 15 000.
He highlighted that Bulgaria is allocated EU financial aid for feeding the refugees.
In his words, the total sum to be spent on feeding the migrants will reach BGN 14 M, with BGN 6 to be provided from the state budget, while the remaining will come from the EU.
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