The profile of migrants crossing illegally into Bulgaria has changed, to men who are “aggressive”, the country’s Interior Ministry chief secretary Georgi Kostov said on August 19.
Kostov was speaking in the town of Malko Turnovo, at the Turkish border, after holding a meeting with local officials in the town about migration situation and additional security measures in Bulgaria’s border regions.
The profile of migrants was shifting from people fleeing war to people who come from countries where there is no war, Kostov said.
He called on residents of the area not to attempt to intercept migrants.
Bulgaria made headlines abroad when self-styled “civil patrols” illegally detained migrants in what they described as “citizens’ arrests”. A particularly notorious case, in which migrants were bound with plastic pigtails, led Bulgarian authorities to issue a reminder that the concept of a “citizen’s arrest” does not exist in Bulgarian law.
Regarding aggressive behaviour, he cited an incident on August 18 in a State Agency for Refugees accommodation centre in the town of Karlovo, in which Afghans got involved in a knife fight. One of the Afghans remains in critical condition.
People who see migrants should alert the Border Police and should not attempt to take matters into their own hands, Kostov said.
He said that in the past day, there had been attempts by 130 people to cross the border from Turkey illegally. All had been intercepted.
In the Malko Turnovo region, in the past day eight people had been detained – six trying to cross the land border, two at the border checkpoint.
Kostov said that already there were 85 staff from EU border agency Frontex to assist Border Police and the military at the Bulgarian-Turkish border.
He said that it would be unfair towards Bulgaria’s European partners not to further tighten the country’s border control. Bulgaria’s borders were traditionally perceived by its European partners as extremely secure and now was the time to reinforce this opinion, Kostov said.
Malko Turnovo mayor Ivan Yanchev said that no one in his municipality had been caught smuggling or people trafficking: “Malko Turnovo people are people with dignity,” Yanchev said.