UNHCR: Halt Transfers of Asylum-Seekers Back to BulgariaDiplomacy | January 3, 2014, Friday // 16:48| views
Some 10 000 refugees are currently in Bulgaria - the migration wave is unprecedented for the country as it has the capacity to accommodate about 5 000. Photo by BGNES
UNHCR has urged states participating in the Dublin Regulation to temporarily suspend transfers of asylum-seekers back to Bulgaria, saying they risk inhuman or degrading treatment.
Asylum-seekers in Bulgaria face a genuine risk of inhuman or degrading treatment due to systemic deficiencies in reception conditions and asylum procedures, the agency concluded in a position paper, issued on January 2.
UNHCR's assessment shows that asylum-seekers in Bulgaria routinely lack access to basic services, such as food and healthcare; face lengthy delays in registration which subsequently deprive them of their basic rights; and are at risk of arbitrary detention. In addition, there are serious challenges to access fair and effective asylum procedures alongside ongoing reports of push backs at the border.
The Dublin Regulation provides for a system to determine responsibility for examining asylum claims lodged in EU Member States and other States that are party to the Dublin regulation according to specific criteria. It aims to ensure that each claim is fairly examined by a State to deter multiple applications and enhance efficiency.
UNHCR has concluded that, despite progress in recent years, and improved reception conditions over the past few weeks, there are significant gaps in the implementation of laws and policies on international protection in Bulgaria.
These gaps have worsened with the increase in the numbers of asylum-seekers arriving in recent months, particularly those fleeing the conflict in Syria. In 2013 over 9,000 people sought asylum in Bulgaria, up from an annual average of 1,000 asylum-seekers since its accession to the EU in 2007.
UNHCR also urges the Bulgarian authorities to take immediate steps to improve these deplorable conditions to ensure respect for the rights of asylum-seekers and people in need of international protection.
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