In its latest move to cope with the influx of Syrian refugees, Bulgaria is opening temporary accommodation at a former military barracks area and a disused education facility in Sofia.
The cabinet agreed on September 25 2013 to transfer two sets of properties from the defence and education ministries to the State Agency for Refugees.
The former barracks area that will become a refugee centre as of September 26 can accommodate 5000 people, according to reports by Novinar newspaper and Nova Televizia.
Temporary accommodation in Elhovo will open by the end of the week, capable of housing 300 people.
On September 25, Deputy Interior Minister Vassil Marinov met representatives of the Syrian community in Bulgaria, who offered help in providing interpreters to establish the bona fides of people presenting themselves as Syrian refugees.
There has been concern that nationals of other countries pretend to be Syrians in an attempt to get their asylum applications speeded up.
The Syrian community also offered help to repair premises earmarked for refugees.
Local media reports said that the transfer of the unused buildings in the Kremikovtsi region of Sofia to accommodate large numbers of refugees was causing concern among residents who believe that this would cause an increase in crime.
Marinov said that the only recent case of crime involving a Syrian refugee was of one who stole 20 leva (about 10 euro) and then turned himself in to police so that he could have a place to sleep in police cells.
At the refugee centre in the Vrazhdebna area, where there are 475 refugees, the Bulgarian Food Bank provided 980 tubs of yoghurt to the refugees.
Steps were taken to ensure that food donations to the refugees were safe for consumption, the organisation’s executive director Tsanka Milanova said.
On September 25, Bulgarian Red Cross chairman Hristo Grigorov said that a fund-raising campaign in aid of Syrian refugees, started on September 18, so far had raised 4482 leva.
Grigorov said that the national operational staff on the refugee issue would meet on September 26 to decide what to do with the money. It was likely that most of it would be spent on buying food for the refugees, he said.