Sofia city council holds emergency meeting on refugee situation in capital

The growing number of refugees, many from Syria, in the Bulgarian capital city prompted the calling of a special meeting of the Sofia city council on October 10 2013.

Sofia municipal council chairman Elin Gerdjikov told local media that were 4000 refugees in the city and it could not cope with admitting more.

Gerdjikov said that the municipality had done all it could to deal with the situation, including stepping up patrols by municipal police, as well as increasing waste collection and street cleaning.

“We will ask for assurances from the government bodies that no more refugees will be accommodated in facilities in Sofia,” Gerdjikov said.

Sofia city council has invited national government officials to attend the meeting, including Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev, Interior Ministry chief secretary Svetlozar Lazarov, State Agency for Refugees head Nikolai Chirpanliev, Ombudsman Konstantin Penchev, and also has invited Sofia police chief Assen Spiridonov.

The council meeting was to discuss data on the capacity of the refugee centres in Sofia municipality and further steps regarding the issue of accommodation for asylum-seekers in the Bulgarian capital city.

Speaking to a parliamentary committee on October 9, Yovchev said that if current trends continue, there would be 13 000 refugees in Bulgaria by the end of 2013 and 20 000 refugees from Syria by the spring of 2014.

Yovchev told the committee that of the 124 people who had been arrested for crossing the border illegally in the previous 24 hours, four were suspected of involvement in terrorist organisations and would be expelled from Bulgaria.

On October 10, a statement by the Interior Ministry said that between 6am on October 9 and 6am on October 10, a total of 124 people had been detained in the area of the Bulgarian-Turkish border for entering Bulgaria illegally. Of these, 94 were citizens of Syria, the ministry said.

The total accommodation capacity of regional units of the State Agency for Refugees and specialised Interior Ministry facilities was currently for 3350 people and this had been exceeded by 129, according to the ministry.

Deployment of personnel to enhance border security and speed up the processing of documents of detainees had been stepped up.

Teams of medical specialists were performing medical check-ups of refugees and the Health Ministry had started the immunization of children younger than 15. There was currently no public health risk, the Interior Ministry said.

The European Asylum Support Office on Asylum would provide expert and organizational support to Bulgaria on procedures and management of the reception of asylum seekers, according to the statement.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)




The Sofia Globe staff

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