Number of non-EU nationals seeking protection in Bulgaria has dropped fivefold – refugee agency head

The number of third-country nationals, meaning people from non-EU countries, seeking protection in Bulgaria has fallen fivefold in comparison with 2016, the head of the State Agency for Refugees said in a television interview on November 20.

At the same time, refusals to grant refugee or humanitarian status have doubled, refugees agency head Petya Purvanova told Bulgarian National Television.

“Currently, the (refugee) centres are at less than 20 per cent use of their full capacity. Years ago, there was a delay in procedures because of the large number of people seeking protection,” Purvanova said. Now, procedures were going ahead without delays and within the required timeframes.

Quoting statistics covering January 2017 to the end of October 2017, Purvanova said that this year, about 3400 people had been newly registered, had sought protection and more than 12 000 decisions had been issued regarding the overall number of applications.

About 82 to 83 per cent of individual administrative acts had been confirmed by the court, she said.

The granting of refugee status is equivalent to granting residence status. A person given refugee status has a deadline of two weeks to leave the refugee centre, and is expected to find work and start earning a living, Purvanova told BNT.

She noted that the government had in July 2016 issued an ordinance required municipalities to declare how many refugees they wanted to have on their territory. Most municipalities were unaware of this ordinance, she said.

(Photo: Tomislav Georgiev/Unicef)



The Sofia Globe staff

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