The Bulgarian government has fired the head of State Agency for Refugees, Nikola Kazakov, for non-performance in the face of the significant increase of refugees, mainly from Syria, that has left the country scrambling to find accommodation and resources to cope with the influx.
Announcing the decision on October 2 2013, Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said that Kazakov had failed not only to deal properly with the processes of granting refugee status, but the administration of accommodation also was inadequate, leading to overcrowding.
There also had been inadequate co-operation with European institutions that could be of assistance in coping with the refugee issue, Yovchev said.
The dismissal of Kazakov, who was appointed in February 2010 by the previous government headed by Boiko Borissov, followed public criticism a few days earlier by Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov, who said that the Interior Ministry had been left to make all the running on the refugee issue while the state agency was unresponsive.
Tsatsarov criticised the agency for trying to deal with the refugee issue by remote control from Sofia instead of deploying staff to border areas.
A few hours ahead of the announcement of Kazakov’s dismissal, the agency posted on its website a statement saying that it was understaffed, and that personnel were having to be drafted in from other ministries, including interior and defence.
Yovchev said that the agency would be headed by Nikolai Chirpanliev, whom he described as having “great experience”, notably at the Defence Ministry.
(Syrian asylum-seekers waiting to be registered with border police at Elhovo, near Bulgaria’s border with Turkey. Photo: UNHCR/D.Kashavelov)