16 Dec 2014
At the end of 2013, an estimated 15,000 Syrian refugees had entered Bulgaria illegally seeking safety. However, the small EU country is experiencing political and economic instability and has not been able to cope with the large number of asylum-seekers. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) stated: “European countries should stop returning asylum seekers to Bulgaria, because they could face inhumane and degrading treatment in Bulgaria’s reception centres, which have been stretched thin by a rising numbers of arrivals.” The Bulgarian government has authorised the construction of a 30km barbed wire fence running along its border with Turkey, in an effort to stem the arrival of new refugees. Tension between refugees suffering poverty and unemployment and local communities is high. As refugee numbers increase, assistance and available aid has dwindled. Living conditions continue to deteriorate. Having only meagre resources, entire families are left waiting for refugee status applications to be processed. Syrian refugees have lost everything, yet their arduous journey is far from over.