World Bulletin/News Desk
As the poorest member of the 28-nation European Union, Bulgaria has struggled to provide even rudimentary shelter to Syrian refugees, New york Times reports.
A bleak refugee center hastily set up in an abandoned military camp at Harmanli in southern Bulgaria, refugees struggle in muddy, garbage-strewn field dotted with tents, small cabins and clusters.
As the poorest member of the 28-nation European Union, Bulgaria has struggled to provide even rudimentary shelter to Syrian refugees, who began surging into the country from Turkey last summer after neighboring Greece, previously a popular entry point to Europe, built a fence along its border and beefed up controls.
According to the report, the number of Syrian refugees reaching Bulgaria is still tiny — around 6,500 so far this year — compared with more than two million who have sought shelter in Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan. But even that number has severely strained the resources and also volatile politics of a country that received only 1,700 refugees in all of 2012. In just October of this year, the country recorded an influx of 3,626 refugees, nearly 60 percent of them from Syria.
The camp in Harmanli is just one of the places the refugees are housed.
The new head of the State Agency for Refugees, a former soldier, Nikolai Tchirpanliev has promised to improve conditions, but also says "the refugees have complained too much", angering some Bulgarians.
In an interview, he said the flapping tents at Harmanli, where temperatures drop well below freezing at night, would soon all be gone. Emergency financing from the European Union, he said, will help Bulgaria buy the equipment it needs to process refugees so they can move on. The bloc’s rules require that refugees be registered and fingerprinted in the country where they first enter Europe.Last Mod: 14 Haziran 2014, 11:20