In Need of Shelter: Over 3,400 Unaccompanied Minors Seek Safety in Bulgaria

Society | November 28, 2023, Tuesday // 17:30|  views

Amidst a concerning trend, Bulgaria grapples with an alarming surge in unaccompanied children seeking refuge within its borders. The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) disclosed a staggering number—over 3,400 unaccompanied minors have sought protection in Bulgaria since the start of 2023.

According to Bulgarian law, any child below 18 entering the country without a parent or custodian is deemed an unaccompanied minor. This wave follows a distressing five-year statistic, with more than 11,000 children seeking protection in the nation. Collaborating with UNICEF Bulgaria, the BHK has supported over 5,600 children by ensuring swift identification, release from migrant centers, and providing legal guidance, essential aid, and assistance in reuniting with their families.

Bulgaria, in response, typically houses these children in designated safety zones within two State Agency for Refugees migrant centers in Sofia. Recognizing their vulnerable status, additional care and tailored support are furnished in these areas. Presently, with UNICEF's aid, a third safety zone dedicated to unaccompanied minors is underway in the Harmanli migrant center in Southern Bulgaria.

Nevertheless, as the numbers of unaccompanied children surge, the available spaces in these centers fall short. In some cases, very young children requiring intensive care have been placed in childcare facilities across Bulgaria—a practice typically reserved for these exceptional cases.

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Tags: Bulgaria, children, refugee, protection


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