The procedure has begun for 50 Afghanistan citizens illegally in Bulgaria to return voluntarily to their country, and a further 200 after their documents are processed, Bulgaria’s government said on November 28.
This was reported at a meeting held by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and attended by the head of Bulgaria’s State Agency for Refugees, Petya Purvanova, and chiefs of the Interior Ministry, Border Police and security services.
The meeting was held to discuss implementation of the action plan in case of an emergency in the event of increased migration pressure on Bulgaria’s borders with Turkey, the government statement said.
The officials reported that the situation at the registration and reception centre in the southern Bulgarian town of Harmanli had normalised after steps were taken to secure the centre and increase the capacity of medical services for the people accommodated there.
The medical teams on site had not detected any dangerous infectious diseases. They had diagnosed chronic illnesses for which treatment had been prescribed.
The construction and repair of the fence at the Harmanli refugee centre was on schedule, the meeting was told.
Steps were to be taken to increase the capacity for accommodation at other distribution centres.
The reception centre at Pastrogor would be converted from an open to a closed facility. Some of the people at Elhovo would be moved there.
The capacity to accommodate people at the special detention centre for foreigners in Lyubimets was being expanded. Fifty trailers with bedding for 400 people had been delivered.
The meeting looked at the possibility of former Border Police facilities at the Bulgarian-Turkish frontier being transformed into centres for detention of foreigners. These would be gated and guarded by Interior Ministry employees.
Estimates were made regarding food and medical care, among other items, and the numbers of State Agency for National Security and Interior Ministry personnel that would be required to work at the centres.
Separately, the University Hospital in Stara Zagora said on November 28 that a 15-year-old Afghanistan boy who had been operated on for head injuries was still in an induced coma with artificial respiration but his life was out of danger.
The hospital said that it was not known how the injuries had been caused. Reports on November 27 said that boy was among a group of Afghans being transported from the Harmanli camp after being expelled because of involvement in the November 24 riots there.
(Main photo, of work on redoing the fence at Harmanli, via Borissov’s Facebook page)