Bulgaria forcing out refugees, Human Rights Watch says, angering government

Bulgaria has embarked on a “Containment Plan” to reduce the number of asylum seekers in the country, Human Rights Watch said in a report released officially on April 30.

The plan has been carried out in part by summarily pushing back Syrians, Afghans, and others as they irregularly cross the border from Turkey, Human Rights Watch said in its report, which Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev reportedly has described as “crap” while the allegations also have been rejected by Bulgaria’s State Agency for Refugees.

The 76-page report, “‘Containment Plan’: Bulgaria’s Pushbacks and Detention of Syrian and other Asylum Seekers and Migrants,” documents how in recent months Bulgarian border police, often using excessive force, have summarily returned people who appear to be asylum seekers to Turkey. The people have been forced back across the border without proper procedures and with no opportunity to lodge asylum claims.

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(Photo: Ben Melrose/V Photo Agency)