Bulgaria Has Exhausted its Capacity to Accommodate Refugees – Foreign Minister

Domestic | August 20, 2013, Tuesday // 14:55|  views

Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Kristiyan Vigenin, photo by BGNES

Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin announced Tuesday that Bulgaria's capacity to accommodate refugees had been exhausted and the country had to resolve the issue, possibly by building a new center for asylum seekers, in order to ensure compliance with international requirements.

In a Tuesday interview for the Bulgarian National Television (BNT), Vigenin claimed that a new center for accommodating 500-700 asylum seekers would solve the problem.

Last week, Vice President Margarita Popova also called for a new center for asylum seekers, stressing that the number of applicants had increased substantially compared to 2012.

According to mediapool.bg, Bulgaria's government has presented no concrete plans for creating extra capacity to accommodate refugees despite statistics of the past few years indicating an anticipated growth in refugee numbers.

Despite the two-fold increase in refugee numbers in Bulgaria in the first half of 2013, Foreign Minister Vigenin announced Tuesday that there was no "refugee wave", but the inflow had increased.

According to official statistics, a total of around 1380 people applied for asylum in 2012, compared to 1880 in the first half of 2013.

Bulgaria currently has three centers for accommodating refugees – one in Sofia, one in the southeastern village of Banya, and one in the southeastern village of Pastrogor.

"Judging by the information which was presented to me and the meetings I had with representatives of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, our capacity has been depleted. The conditions no longer meet requirements, because the facilities are overpopulated," Vigenin told BNT.

Bulgaria's Foreign Minister suggested that the country had to take other steps apart from building a new accommodation center, such as fast-tracking the reviewing and issuance of decisions on asylum applications.

"In any case, whatever we do, we really need a new center of that type" he said.

He argued that the situation in Egypt was not expected to trigger a refugee wave which would reach Bulgaria, but admitted that there were risks, if the current situation remained in place long.

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Tags: Kristian Vigenin, Foreign Minister, asylum seekers, refugees, accomodation centers, pastrogor, UN High Commissioner for Refugees


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