A Bulgarian soldier repairs the fence on the border with Turkey | Photo: EPA/Vassil Donev
A Bulgarian soldier repairs the fence on the border with Turkey | Photo: EPA/Vassil Donev

The number of migrants and refugees who cross from Turkey into Bulgaria has increased sharply. So far this year, border authorities have recorded 85,000 arrivals – more than double the figure for the whole of 2021.

Bulgaria has seen a sharp rise this year in the number of migrants and refugees who arrived irregularly, border police chief Rossitsa Dimitrova said on Monday (September 5) in an interview with public television broadcaster BNT.

Migrant arrivals up significantly in 2022

She said that 41,000 migrants had been intercepted in Bulgaria at the Turkish border in 2021, while in the first eight months of this year, the number was around 85,000.

Dimitrov said that she was concerned about the situation along the border with Turkey. She said that 800 officers from different sections of the interior ministry forces had been assigned to assist the roughly 1,000 border police agents.

The police chief did not rule out that those engaged in illegal trafficking of the migrants might enjoy protection from corrupt Bulgarian police. She also said that she hoped for closer collaboration with the Turkish authorities to curb migration.

Most of the foreigners arriving in Bulgaria irregularly were between the ages of 20 and 25, Dimitrov said.

Transit country

Bulgaria is one of the easternmost member states of the European Union. It is seen as a transit country by many refugees and migrants hoping to reach western Europe. However, crossing westward into other countries can be difficult, as many states in the Balkans have put up border fences and set up border patrols -- some of which have been accused of carrying out illegal pushbacks.

The country has put up a long fence along its border with Turkey, but there have been repeated reports of gaps and holes in the fence due to a lack of maintainance, leading Bulgaria to increase its troop presence along the border. Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch accused Bulgarian authorities of using violence against asylum seekers and illegally pushing them back into Turkey.

 

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