Amnesty: Bulgaria Should Do More to Prevent Hate CrimesCrime | November 13, 2013, Wednesday // 11:47| views
A refugee camp in the district of Vrazhdebna, in the Bulgarian capital Sofia. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency
The Bulgarian authorities must do more to prevent xenophobic hate crimes, Amnesty International urged amid a rise in racist attacks that, the organization claims, has left migrants living in fear.
"There is an alarming and dangerous rise in xenophobic feeling in Bulgaria and the onus is on the authorities to prevent it, but instead many recent government statements risk inflaming the situation," said Barbora Cernusakova of Amnesty International, who will discuss the issue with Bulgarian government officials in Sofia.
"Migrants and refugees in Bulgaria are living in a climate of fear and all attacks against these vulnerable groups must be urgently and thoroughly investigated."
Amnesty International says there has been a „dramatic“ increase in the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants coming into Bulgaria this year, mainly from Syria, prompting several anti-immigrant protests organized by far-right groups.
Amnesty International claims that xenophobic rhetoric has also entered mainstream politics and cites Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev, who said last month: "There is no country that has ever benefitted from the fact that there are refugees on its territory."
Recent xenophobic attacks include the stabbings of an 18-year-old Malian boy on Sunday and a 17-year-old Syrian national last week.
On 9 November, a 28-year-old Bulgarian man of Turkish descent, was beaten up after being mistaken for an immigrant. His wife Minka told Amnesty International the family are now too scared to remain in the hostel where they live.
"My daughter and I found him after he had been beaten. He was laying on the ground covered in blood. I recognized him by his bag," she said.
Minka said the attack was sparked by the stabbing of a 20-year-old Bulgarian woman in Sofia last week, over which an Algerian suspect has been arrested.
Amnesty International points out that Bulgaria's President and Prime Minister have condemned xenophobia, but the government is simultaneously taking measures to stop refugees entering the country.
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