Bulgaria fears new refugee wave from Iraq conflict

Bulgaria could face an even greater inflow of refugees in the coming months, following intensified fighting in Iraq in recent weeks, the country’s caretaker Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov said on August 19.

Speaking to Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), Mitov said that Iraq’s geographic proximity to Bulgaria – with only Turkey in between the two countries – could mean that Bulgaria would bear the brunt of the new wave of displaced persons moving towards the European Union.

He said that the number of refugees heading towards Bulgaria could be double or triple the size of the migrant wave from Syria, which hit Bulgaria in the second half of 2013. An estimated more than 10 000 people entered Bulgaria, many of them illegally, since last summer.

“There is a risk of a refugee wave, there is the risk of terrorism imports. On the side of the Islamic State, there are fighters recruited in Europe, from the entire Middle East and North Africa. There is a need for very close cooperation between all the countries, in the region,” Mitov said.

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(Bulgaria built a wire fence on its border with Turkey earlier this year to discourage refugees from crossing illegally into the country. Photo: Bulgaria Defence Ministry)