Bulgaria has detained 22 000 migrants since the beginning of 2015, Deputy Interior Minister Philip Gounev told public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television on October 4.
The barrier to reduce the influx of migrants at Bulgaria’s southern border should be completed by the end of the year, Gounev said. So far, more than 15 kilometres had been completed.
His statements came three days after details were released of a joint operation by the Interior Ministry, the State Agency for National Security and the Prosecutor’s Office targetting people smuggling and illegal migration.
Close to 2000 Interior Ministry officers took part in the operation, in which 501 people who were in the country illegally were detained and 46 people suspected of involvement in people-trafficking were arrested. Twenty weapons of various calibres were confiscated.
The operation was held in areas close to Bulgarias borders while various places where illegal migrants were suspected to be staying were checked, including in Sofia, Dragoman, Vidin and Montana, all in western Bulgaria.
A news conference on October 1 was told that a total of 9702 people and 5209 vehicles were checked in the operation.
On October 1, the Interior Ministry said that two groups of illegal migrants had been detained in the regions of Strandhza and Bourgas in south-eastern Bulgaria on September 29 and 30. One of the groups, including 27 people, was taken to the border police station in the town of Malko Turnovo.
The other group of 60 people was detained in Bourgas. They said that they were from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
On September 29, the ministry said that 29 foreign nationals, none of whom had identity documents, had been detained at the Bulgarian-Serbian border.
In the 24 hours before that, a total of 310 migrants had been prevented from crossing the Bulgarian-Turkish border illegally, the Interior Ministry said.
On September 28, Bulgarian Border Police from the Kalotina checkpoint detained 18 foreign nationals who were attempting to cross the border illegally. The foreigners – three from Afghanistan, three from Iraq, four from Pakistan and eight from Syria were detained few metres away from the state border in the area of Livadite.
None of them had ID documents. Regional prosecutors in Slivnitsa initiated pre-trial proceedings.
A separate Border Police team detained 11 Afghanistan nationals, all without ID documents, in the area of the village of Berende Izvor in Dragoman Municipality. The migrants were taken to the Interior Ministry’s Migration Directorate centre in Elhovo in south-eastern Bulgaria.
On September 28, six foreign nationals, men who said that they were from Iraq and who had no ID documents, were detained in the area of Indzhe Voivoda village, Sozopol municipality, on the Black Sea coastline in south-eastern Bulgaria.
(Photo: Interior Ministry press centre)