Bulgaria to get direct EU financial help to deal with influx of Syrian refugees – Interior Minister

Bulgaria will soon get direct financial assistance from the European Union to cope with the influx into the country of Syrian refugees, Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev was quoted as saying in Luxembourg on October 8, where he was attending a meeting of EU interior ministers.

The situation in Syria, in particular the huge flow of Syrian refugees into Europe, was an agenda item at the meeting of the EU’s justice and home affairs council.

In Luxembourg, Yovchev met Ilka Laitinen, executive director of EU border agency Frontex, who according to an Interior Ministry statement said that at the moment, the “most important land border in the EU is the Bulgarian-Turkish border”.

It is this border that has been the site in recent weeks and months for the interception of large numbers of illegal migrants, mainly from Syria. The influx has tested beyond capacity Bulgaria’s planning and capacity for dealing with an inflow of refugees.

“Frontex is trying to satisfy to the maximum extent the additional requirement of the Bulgarian border police for co-operation in terms of both expert assistance and equipment,” Laitinen said, according to the Bulgarian Interior Ministry statement.

At their October 8 meeting, EU ministers discussed strengthening measures of managing the migration flows in the wake of the Lampedusa tragedy as well as the Syrian refugee crisis.

“On behalf of the Council Presidency and Lithuanian Government I wish to express deep sorrow and condolences to the families of the victims as well as solidarity with the Italian institutions. This is one of those heavy moments when difficult questions have to be solved by entire Europe. We must make sure to achieve long-term solutions to stop such tragedies from repeating themselves,” said Dailis Alfonsas Barakauskas, home affairs minister of Lithuania, the country currently holding the rotating presidency of the EU.

The council “discussed a package of possible measures that strive for sustainable solutions to avoid the repetition of such tragedies,” a statement said.

“Ministers took note of the information provided by the Italian delegation and the European Commission and expressed their determination to use all possible measures at EU level to prevent such tragedies in the future,” the statement said.

It was proposed to set up a joint task force that would prepare an action plan that would include “all practical measures and tools” in the possesion of the EU.

Ministers underlined the need to enhance the co-operation and dialogue with neighbours and countries of origin and transit of immigrants and to strengthen the management of external borders, especially by a more efective use of the Frontex agency.

They also emphasised that the fight against organised goups involved in trafficking of human beings is essential, the statement said.

The EU ministers also discussed the issue of the assisting about two million Syrian refugees and dealing with the situation where more than half of the EU member states have received refugee applications.

“We are extremely worried about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria and the refugee situation,” Barakauskas said.

“We have to address their immediate needs but also to seek a long-term comprehensive solution which includes the regional assistance program put in place by the Commission. It should also include measures to deal with the problem of highly increased numbers of Syrian citizens to the European Union, especially seeking to assist those member states which are immediately affected,” Barakauskas said.

The EU justice and home affairs council “committed to monitoring the situation in Syria and providing the guidelines for the response on the EU level.

“The EU and its member states will continue providing the humanitarian assistance and support for the persons in need of protection and to the neighbouring countries of Syria,” the statement said.




The Sofia Globe staff

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