By Clive Leviev – Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
There is a great possibility that Bulgaria will get funding from the European Commission to assist the country in dealing with the situation created by the large increase in the number of Syrian refugees arriving.
This is according to Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev, who said that Bulgaria had been raising the issue at a political level and had a “concrete result” in the acknowledgment of an emergency situation in Bulgaria, Greece and Cyprus.
There were two funds, the European Refugee fund and the External Borders fund, that could be used to provide support in the current period, he said.
Bulgaria already had completed the application form describing its needs. An expert committee from the EC was expected to arrive on October 1 to inspect Bulgaria’s needs.
Yovchev said that more money was expected to be in these funds in the next EU financial framework, while EU member states would be able to apply under the Police Cooperation fund as well.
At the Interior Ministry, letters had been prepared showing counterpart interior ministers the seriousness of the situation in Bulgaria.
“I will raise the matter during bilateral meetings at the next EU Justice and Home Affairs Council,” Yovchev said.
In its most recent bulletin on the refugee influx, the ministry said on September 26 that between 6am on September 25 and 6am on September 26, Border Police had come across a total of 114 people who had crossed the Bulgarian – Turkish border illegally, including 62 from Syria.
The total capacity of accommodation at State Agency for Refugees and Interior Ministry facilities was 2850 people.
Bulgaria’s temporary accommodation capacity for refugees already had been exhausted and additional possibilities were being sought, Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev said at a meeting at UN headquarters in New York with Antonio Guterres, High Commissioner for Refugees.
The two discussed the necessity to update the plan for tackling the problem related to the increasing number of Syrian refugees.
Guterres said that the refugee crisis would not be solved soon and emphasised the necessity to adopt sustainable models and take decisions, including at a national level, to meet the challenges.
“There is no prompt solution to the crisis, therefore Bulgaria must be ready to act promptly and adequately,” Plevneliev said.
The situation is becoming more serious and the number of refugees is increasing and according to latest information their number exceeds 2.2 million people, mainly in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Italy and Greece, Bulgaria’s Presidency said.
Guterres and Plevneliev agreed that new places for accommodation and extra funding should be secured and that Bulgaria must use all mechanisms ensuring support and funding, including those along the line of the EU and UN, the Presidency said.
The two also discussed the attitude to those outside their countries and emphasised the necessity to show a sympathetic and humane attitude to people seeking protection.
Plevneliev said that Bulgaria is a symbol of hospitality, tolerance and humaneness and must currently display these values.
The Foreign Ministry said that in accordance with its capabilities, Bulgaria had provided humanitarian assistance to the neighbouring countries of Syria.
Despite the budgetary constraints, more than 300 000 had been allocated for this purpose. At the moment, Bulgaria was being forced to mobilise additional resources to deal with the situation on its own border.