Christmas News Summary Bulgaria: December 24 2016

Written by on December 24, 2016 in Bulgaria - No comments

Hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians hopped in their vehicles yesterday, in order to leave the cities during the holidays. According to police estimates, up to 200,000 inhabitants from Sofia were expected to leave the capital. All of this lead to serious traffic jams. The latter applied to the road to Pernik, Trakia Highway, Hemus Highway and other roads. Today, there will be increased traffic too, but far less, in comparison.

The Bulgarian Railways increased the number of seats it offered on routes such as Sofia – Varna. Many Bulgarians also traveled by bus. Sofia is expected to be relatively quiet during the holidays.

This year, both Christmas and Hanukkah start of December 24th, meaning the approximately 2000 Bulgarian Jews will celebrate their holiday, while the Christian majority celebrates theirs. Typical Bulgarian Christmas celebrations differ somewhat from the way this holiday is being celebrated in western countries.

Another 48 million Euro have been awarded to Bulgaria by the European Commission. It is emergency funding under the so-called Asylum, Migration and integration Fund (AMIF) as well as the Internal Security Fund (ISF). Out of these funds, some 36 million Euro are supposed to be used by the Ministry of Interior for border management, while 12 million Euro should be used to strengthen the management of migration flows. According to the European Commission, more requests for emergency funding are being assessed now.

Bulgaria has not been too successful in dealing with the refugee crisis, so far. NGOs and the United Nations have blasted the state for locking up so-called “illegal migrants”, even those who were minors, for not providing adequate conditions in refugee camps, for locking down the Harmanli refugee camp, for reasons which turned out to be false, and thereby causing a riot, which led to violence.

Also, the Bulgaria Border Police was accused of systematically robbing, but also beating, kicking and intimidating refugees at the borders. In 2016, more than 50 Border Police officers were arrested on corruption charges, and the force’s leadership was fired by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, for signing contracts with known people traffickers. At the same time, Bulgaria has received help from the successor of the European border agency Frontex, millions from the E.U. and vehicles from the German police.

In the meantime, the freight train driver, who is probably responsible for the Hitrino blast, which killed seven people and injured 29, while destroying 26 buildings, will remain in custody. Prosecutors believe the man is a flight risk, since he sold a real estate property after the deadly accident.

Weather forecasters say, temperatures in Sofia between now and January 1st, 2017, will range between -7 degrees Centigrade at night and +7 degrees during the day. According to today’s forecasts, it might be snowing on December 28th.

By im.

In cooperation with The Sofia Globe.





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