Sofia mayor steps up police patrols near refugee centre after residents complain

Municipal police patrols near the refugee centre in the Bulgarian capital city’s Ovcha Kupel area have been stepped up after complaints from residents of nearby housing complained of feeling threatened, Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova said on January 14 2016.

Fandukova told a city council meeting that she had received a letter from a resident of the neighbourhood living in flats opposite the refugee centre, describing “filth and fear” and saying that Ovcha Kupel was like “Cologne at New Year”.

This was a reference to large-scale sexual assaults on women in the German city on the night of December 31, the alleged perpetrators being identified in reports as mainly of North African and Middle Eastern origin, said to be migrants.

Fandukova said that she fully understood the concerns of people living in the area. She said that three years ago, she had underlined her misgivings about having refugee centres in the capital city.

She said that she received reports on the situation in the area daily.

Fandukova said that another “risk zone” was the area around the Women’s Market, Maria Louisa Boulevard and Lion Bridge. There was also a permanent police presence in that area, with gendarmerie patrols, at her insistence.

She said that a meeting had been held with the head of Sofia’s criminal investigation department at which measures to be taken by the police had been discussed.

Local media reports said that refugees at the centre in Ovcha Kupel were subject to a flexible system which allowed them to go out, go shopping and use local internet clubs. Residents had complained that people at the centre were a source of noise and got involved in fights, and the residents added that they were concerned about their own safety.

(Photo: Ben Melrose/V Photo Agency)



The Sofia Globe staff

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