Dnevnik published an informative interview with Diana Radoslavova from the Center for Legal Aid - Voice in Bulgaria, concerning the forgotten topic of refugees in Bulgaria. Mrs. Radoslavova explains the drop in interest in the subject with the parallel decline in the number of refugees that have reached the country in the last 4 years. She quotes data from the State Agency for Refugees (SAR), which shows that in 2007, 3,700 people sought protection in Bulgaria - 7 times less than 2016. This data is indicative of "the good functioning of our country in the protection of European borders", but from the point of view of fundamental human rights, this protection is detrimental, especially for the most vulnerable and deprived of the migrants.
As most of our readers may know, one of the main results from this is the increased use by refugees of the most dangerous route to Europe - the Mediterranean - resulting in an increase in the number of victims ("of 171 635 arrived in Europe by the Mediterranean 3 116 lost their lives along the way in 2017 "). Unfortunately, in Bulgaria, this migration continues to be described by politicians and the media as a threat, and the legislation becomes more and more repressive. This in turn closes the eyes of Bulgarian society to the need for empathy and, from an instrumental point of view, the need for labor in the state and how integration would contribute positively to both sides.
Diana Radoslavova points out this in her answers in the interview with Dnevnik. But first, she notes that in Bulgaria "a huge problem is a poor quality of protection procedures that do not meet the minimum standards for granting status and the inadequate sanctioning of this by the courts". This, she says, leads to secondary migration and the creation of a large group of undocumented refugees in the country - with status refused and also unable to return to their native countries. At the same time, Bulgaria already has a "zero level of integration policy" for the fourth year in a row, which presents our country as a transit country. However, there are a significant number of remaining, returned and relocated individuals from other European countries.
From a more positive point of view, Diana Radoslavova notes that Bulgarian employers have become a "key factor in migration and integration processes" due to the increase in demand for labor among refugees. The Center for Legal Aid - Voice in Bulgaria Foundation and volunteers work, for example, to connect 10 Eritrean citizens with an employer, which would provide them with "income, training, specialization, and proper integration".
On the topic of the fear of migrants in Bulgaria, Radoslavova explains that it stems from the forced idea that all incoming refugees are "extremists, terrorists, and migration is a threat that puts our society in a crisis." The truth is, however, that the majority are people like us coming from countries in a greater crisis than the Bulgarian one (Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia ...) and this migration process is inevitable and will continue to happen. This fear and the toxic atmosphere in the country is also fueled by generalizations towards migrants. As an example, Diana again points to the Eritrean migrants, who are "a small and completely non-threatening group, all of whom are Orthodox Christians, not terrorists or Islamists, have a legally recognized status and have not entered illegally in our country." However, threats to them continue. Diana Radoslavova concludes this issue with the inevitable shifting of the focus on the migrants as an issue, to other significant systematic problems of the Bulgarian society.