Peak of summer brings waves of would-be illegal immigrants to Bulgaria’s borders

The announcement on August 19 by Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry that in the past 24 hours, a total of 54 foreign nationals had been detained while attempting to cross illegally into Bulgaria is part of a seasonal flood of would-be illegal entrants.

Bulgaria largely is a transit country for illegal migrants, who cross mainly from Turkey and to a lesser extent from Greece, generally intending to head for the labour markets of Western Europe, often escaping catastrophic conflict, especially in Syria.

Interior Ministry statements about detentions usually reflect the declarations made by the detainees themselves about their countries of origin. There is, of course, some risk that detainees who intend seeking refugee status may falsely declare which country they are from in the belief that this will improve their chances.

In this regard, claiming to be from Syria would be an obvious choice, but at the same time the reality also is that figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees show a tide of many thousands fleeing the war being conducted under the Assad regime.

Of those reported by Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry to have been detained in the 24 hours preceding August 19, one, arrested in the village of Matochina close to the Turkish border, said that he was a Palestinian. Of 14 people held nearby the village of Vulcha Polyana, all lacking identity documents, the group said that they were from Syria or were Palestinians.

Thirty-one people held close to the village of Krainovo said that they were from Syria. Near the village of Golyam Dervent, two men were arrested, of whom one said that he was from Syria and the other said that he was from Liberia.

Earlier in August, the Interior Ministry said that according to Border Police, an average of four attempted illegal border crossings a day are prevented.

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