30 May 2014

New statements of Syrian asylum seekers obtained by ECRE member Pro Asyl document their severe degrading and inhuman treatment while in Bulgaria. This new evidence has prompted the German NGO to call on Germany not to send any asylum seekers to Bulgaria under the Dublin Regulation.

The reports show that Syrian families are detained for several days in cold cells without access to food or water. People in refugee camps complain of food shortages, poor hygiene, police violence and corruption, and overcrowding. According to the statements, the lack of adequate medical care has in some cases resulted in the death of asylum seekers and incidents of racist attacks go un-challenged by Bulgarian police.

Mrs H. K., one of the asylum seekers interviewed by Pro Asyl, said ‘I wish I’d died in Syria instead of landed in Bulgaria’. One family told Pro Asyl that they were detained for three days with three other families – 20 people in total – in a barred cell in a temperature of less than 10 degrees. They all had to sleep on a bare concrete floor with no blankets even for the children.

According to Pro Asyl, the German government is currently preparing a high number of deportations to Bulgaria. In the first quarter of 2014, the German government has asked Bulgaria to accept responsibility for 629 asylum seekers under the Dublin Regulation. Since the beginning of 2014, more than 2,500 asylum seekers have left Bulgaria for elsewhere in the EU.

In April 2014, ECRE and Amnesty International both reiterated their call for all Member States to not send asylum seekers to Bulgaria under the Dublin Regulation. Although according to UNHCR “a general suspension of all Dublin transfers to Bulgaria is no longer justified”, the UN Refugee Agency noted that “serious gaps in the system still remain, and that there may be reasons not to transfer certain groups or individuals, in particular those with specific needs or vulnerabilities”.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 30 May 2014.
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