At the moment, there are three camps of a closed type existing in Bulgaria. The buildings, which are administered from the Migration Directorate of the Ministry of Interior (MoI), provide 1,040 places: The Detention Center in Busmantsi has 400, the Detention Center in Lyubimets (since recently) 400 and the Detention Center in Elhovo has 240 places. In these accommodation facilities unaccompanied minors are being held illegally, which was reported by the Ombudsman some days ago. A recent statement, done by the Center for Legal Aid – Voice in Bulgaria (CLA), confirmed the report.

[CLA] met a number of detained unaccompanied minors, whom the centre’s administration had listed as accompanied by a seemingly randomly chosen person who happened to be a part of the same group traveling together and smuggled into the country.[…]

Furthermore the CLA translated and clarified parts of the report. The, so called, ‚Allocation Center‘ or ‚Distribution Center‘ in Elhovo functions “without the proper regulatory framework“ and about the Detentions Centers of Busmantsi and Lyubimets one could read the following relating to the conditions there:

[…]dirty sleeping spaces and bathrooms, insufficient personal space and lack of sanitary products. Communication between detainees and the staff is obstructed by the fact that there are no interpreters.

According to the Bulgarian law, migrants who crossed the border “illegally“ have done a criminal act and will be brought to a Detention Center. The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) wrote in their last report from 2015, that about 97% of “asylum seekers who applied at national borders“ for asylum, are being brought to Elhovo’s Detention Center, where they are being screened and officially can apply for asylum. If there is no space in Elhovo, the asylum seekers have to stay in Lyubimets or Busmantsi. De facto, almost the half of the asylum seekers in Bulgaria applied for asylum from inside Detention Centers in 2015.

First published in: Bordermonitoring Bulgaria