Helping Bulgaria cope with the increase of asylum-seekers
Growing numbers of Syrian refugees have been making their way to Bulgaria via Turkey over the recent months. For about a decade, the country had received only around a thousand arrivals a year and was ill-prepared to cope with the sharp increase. More than 9000 asylum-seekers have arrived to Bulgaria in 2013, nine times the yearly average in previous years.
About half the asylum-seekers are accommodated in crowded and hastily opened reception centres. Many lack sufficient food and warmth, or access to medical care. The winter weather makes a tough situation even worse.
In early December, the UN refugee agency launched an emergency operation to help fill the gaps in aid and assist the government speed up the process to register and process asylum claims. It provides food in Harmanli and is working to establish child-friendly spaces in all centres. It is also working to improve the information available to centre residents about asylum procedures, their rights and obligations, social counseling, and legal aid.
Find the latest updates on the refugee situation in Bulgaria on the right.