The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and Bulgaria signed an agreement on October 17 by which EASO will assist the country in dealing with the stepped-up flow of asylum seekers.
EASO and Bulgaria signed an Operating Plan which provides for EASO support to Bulgaria, until September 2014, in a number of priority areas.
These include “identification and pre-registration of mixed migration flows; registration of asylum seekers and referral of unaccompanied minors and vulnerable persons to the appropriate asylum procedure; supporting the asylum decision process; providing Country of Origin Information; delivering core training in EASO Curriculum Modules for newly hired staff and; offering expertise on the absorption of emergency financial support to Bulgaria under EU Funds(SOLID Programme)”.
Because of a high increase in the influx of asylum seekers, in particular in the number of asylum seekers from Syria, Bulgaria’s asylum and reception system has come under serious pressure, EASO said.
Bulgaria made an official request on October 14 for EASO support.
Based on the actual situation in Bulgaria, EASO executive director Robert Visser decided to render immediate support to Bulgaria via a joint expertise of EASO and member states, the organisation said.
The plan signed by Visser and Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev aims at helping Bulgaria cope with the increase in the influx while at the same time improving and strengthening the Bulgarian asylum and reception system, in the context of the implementation of the instruments of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).
Joint Asylum Support Teams made up of EASO experts, experts from member states and Bulgarian Officials will be set up, EASO said.
Their work will include performing registration of asylum seekers, informing applicants about the procedures and supporting referral of vulnerable cases and further identification to the appropriate national asylum procedure.
EASO will also provide training for Bulgarian civil servants, capacity building in Country of Origin Information, organise thematic workshops and provide technical advice and quality standards, EASO said. This includes planning a strategy to increase the capacity of reception facilities and to make better use of existing reception capacities.
“I am glad that we have agreed, in a very short time, on a holistic plan which will provide for much needed support to Bulgaria, which is currently facing significant pressure on its asylum and reception system. We have assessed the needs of Bulgaria and adopted a flexible approach in providing tailor-made support to Bulgaria. We will now immediately start work on the ground to ensure the effective implementation of the plan,” Visser said.
EASO support complements other support measures by the European Commission to Bulgaria, such as emergency funding in the field of asylum under the envelope of the SOLID Programme, EASO said.
(Photo: UNHCR/F Juez)