UN Slams Bulgaria over Detention, Integration of Refugees

Diplomacy | December 6, 2010, Monday // 14:58|  views

Human rights organizations have been criticizing the Bulgarian government for keeping asylum-seekers in the notorious detention facility in Busmantsi. Photo by BGNES

The Bulgarian authorities have been criticized anew by the UN Refugee Agency for detaining unlawfully foreign refugees and asylum-seekers in the notorious facility in Busmantsi near Sofia.

The Bulgarian authorities continue to detain refugees for longer than they have the right to at the facility for temporary accommodation in Busmantsi, said Tatyana Valchanova from the Sofia Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The UNHCR presented Monday a report on the life of asylum-seekers and refugees in seven Eastern European countries including Bulgaria.

She explained that the detainees periodically stage protest rallies inside the facility and some of them take the Bulgarian state to court. The refugees are usually kept in Busmantsi from two weeks to a few months.

Valchanova has pointed out that the major problem in Bulgaria is that even though seeking asylum is not a crime, the refugees in Bulgaria get detained.

Human rights organizations have been demanding for quite some time that legislation amendments be adopted in order to guarantee that the only foreign citizens that will be detained in Busmantsi should be people who are to subject to deportation or present some kind of threat and could hide.

Anna Andreeva, a representative of the Bulgarian Agency for Refugees, also said during the press conference that asylum seekers should not be detained in Busmantsi.

She pointed out that the government has already undertaken measures to release the asylum seekers that should not be held there and to transfer them to the respective open facilities. She also said the population of the detention facility has already started to decrease.

Valchanova from UNHCR explained that it is very hard for foreigners with refugee status to find employment in Bulgaria. What is more, in order to be entitled to receive unemployment or other welfare benefits, they need to have been employed and then to have been registered as unemployed for at least nine months.

At the same time, however, there has been some progress in that respect since in 2010 so far, for the first time 25 asylum seekers have been registered with the Bulgarian State Employment Agency; there were none registered the previous year.

A total of 39 people got refugee status in Bulgaria in 2009.

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Tags: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, asylum seekers, refugees, State Agency for Refugees, Busmantsi Detention Facility, Busmantsi


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