Why do people seek asylum?
Every day around the world people flee their homes in fear of persecution or times of war, leaving behind friends and loved ones, jobs, homes and all that is familiar to them. Such a decision is never taken lightly – but is taken to ensure life and security for themselves and their families. They flee their own country in hope of finding safety somewhere else.
How many people apply for asylum in Bulgaria?
Factors including the crisis in Syria led to a significant rise in the number of people applying for asylum in Bulgaria in 2013. The total number of applicants rose from 1,387 in 2012 to 7,144 in 2013.
Numbers of asylum seekers continue to increase; in the first ten months of 2014, more than 8000 people applied for protection in Bulgaria (of which 35% are children). This is still a very small figure if you consider that over 3 million Syrians have fled to the country’s immediate neighbours (Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq). Statistical information is available at: zakrila.info
Where do asylum seekers in Bulgaria come from?
In 2014, more than half of asylum seekers in Bulgaria came from Syria, and around a quarter from Afghanistan, but asylum seekers here also come from many other countries including Iraq and Algeria.
What happens when someone applies for asylum in Bulgaria?
If someone wants to apply for asylum when they enter Bulgaria (and is eligible to do so), they have to file a request with the State Agency for Refugees. Upon registration of the request, the asylum seeker is placed in one of the six reception centres in Bulgaria or, if they have the financial resources needed, they can rent accommodation and live at an external address. The State Agency for Refugees decides whether to recognise the asylum seeker as a refugee after several interviews and an investigation. More information on procedures and current statistics on the State Agency for Refugees’ website.
How does The Refugee Project help?
The Refugee Project brings together volunteers to organise a wide range of lessons and activities for asylum seekers and refugees in the reception centres (also informally called refugee camps) in Sofia. The period when they live in these camps is a time when many refugee families feel vulnerable; we try to help adults and children to integrate into their new environment by teaching them language skills and giving them new experiences and positive interactions. Find out more about what we do here.