Germany reverses move to return refugees to Bulgaria, State Agency for Refugees head says

Germany has backtracked on its intention to return more than 2000 refugees to Bulgaria, the head of Bulgaria’s State Agency for Refugees said on July 23.

Agency head Nikolai Chirpanliev had said on July 17 that German authorities had decided to return the refugees, most of whom had humanitarian and official refugee status, while unofficial information was that they also included those who had managed to cross the border illegally to Western Europe.

He said at the time that the advisory note from the German authorities had been received a week previously.

On July 23, Chirpanliev said that German president Joachim Gauck had recommended that Germany accept from Bulgaria vulnerable humanitarian-status refugees.

Chirpanliev said that Germany’s ability to provide funding for groups of refugees was much higher than that of Bulgaria.

Bulgaria was continuing to push for the national integration strategy for refugees to be financed with European funds, as was the case in Greece, according to Chirpanliev.

He said that such a commitment was made by European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström a few months ago.

Chirpanliev said that Bulgaria had to ask for money, “because without money we cannot integrate refugees”

In June 2014 alone, a total of 645 people had been registered illegally crossing into Bulgaria via its southern border, he said.

On July 21, Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry said that a fence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border, a controversial project costing more than seven million leva and intended to stem the flow of illegal crossings into Bulgaria, had been completed.

Tsvetlin Yovchev, Interior Ministry in the outgoing Bulgarian Socialist Party cabinet, said on July 23 that “up to 1000 migrants a month is something that Bulgaria can handle at the moment”.

Yovchev said that there were more than 70 per cent vacant places for sheltering of refugees. He said that the procedure for granting refugee status had been speeded up.

According to Yovchev, there was no “critical situation around the refugees in Bulgaria” but he said that there was still a need to follow closely the processes since the migration pressure had increased.

(Photo: Ben Melrose/V Photo Agency)



The Sofia Globe staff

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