Bulgaria’s cabinet has returned Nikola Kazakov, who headed the State Agency for Refugees from 2010 to 2013, to the post after firing his successor.
Nikolai Chirpanliev, appointed by the now-departed 2013/14 administration, was dismissed in late 2014 after it was reported that he had said, “In Bulgaria, of the refugees only the Kurds remain, who are worse than our gypsies”.
Kazakov was first appointed to head the State Agency for Refugees at the time of the 2009/13 Boiko Borissov government.
He was dismissed in 2013 as Bulgaria experienced a significant increase in the number of refugees, mainly from the Middle East and North Africa, with the largest number being people displaced because of the crisis in Syria.
The agency’s performance on several fronts, including provisions for accommodation and for administering asylum applications, was the subject of sharp criticism by multilateral and human rights organisations.
Bulgaria currently faces the possibility of several hundred refugees being returned to it from other EU countries. On January 7, the acting head of the agency told local media that reports that several thousand were to be returned were exaggerations based on misinterpretations of the workings of the system within the EU.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)