Bulgaria is a square in a sad, dangerous and deadly game, the winners of which have to get from A to B, which is almost a mission impossible at this stage. Getting from Syria, Afghanistan or even Iraq into Turkey, already requires luck and money.
Then, the next big hurdle appears in any refugee’s sight: the Bulgarian border. Macedonia was easy a year ago, but the tiny country is not an option anymore. So, from the perspective of a refugee, who wants security, a job and a functioning social welfare system, the next step would be to surmount several hurdles at and behind the southern Bulgarian border:
A rather modest border fence was erected, along part of the border. It is incomplete, for now.
The Bulgarian Border Police:
They are corrupt, in part, and many officers should be arresting themselves, because they might be criminals. The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and other NGOs have accused them of robbing refugeees.
Officers from several countries, sent here by the European border protection agency, are guarding that border too. It is much better to fall into their hands than to be confronted with the Bulgarian police,, but they will not let refugees continue their journey either.
Radical, nationalist, racist “refugee hunters”:
They hunt and “arrest” refugees illegally. At first, the government thanked them, until Sofia noticed that is was supporting illegal activities and blunt racism, which does not look good in Western Europe. So they reversed course.
Illegal border crossings are obviously illegal. Bulgarian laws include jail sentences for those. An unknown number of refugees are actually incarcerated in Bulgarian jails right now.
For refugees, who managed to bypass all of the above on their way into Bulgaria, there is still a high probability they will be caught in some village or on a country road, anywhere in Bulgaria.
Or, in order to get rid of that danger, they need loads of money for people smugglers. Some of the latter get caught, along with the refugees hidden in trucks and vans.
If the refugees somehow make it to the western border of Bulgaria, they will most likely be turned back and probably arrested. Police is very present at that border by now, on both sides.
Then there is Romania, separated by this wide river called Danube. Just a week ago, at least two Iraqis, among them one child, drowned while trying to cross. Why Romania? Because Hungary has border fences on its southern borders. And the army is guarding them.
Bulgaria, the dead-end road, for most asylum seekers. At this stage, the refugee camps in this country are almost full, with a total of about 10,000 refugees. The big question: What next?
By Imanuel Marcus