About 300 Afghan citizens have applied for voluntary return to their country from Bulgaria and this number could reach 500, Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova said on December 6.
Buchvarova, speaking in a television interview, said that the procedures moved quickly because they were voluntary, and because of the assistance of the embassy of Afghanistan in Sofia.
It was citizens of Afghanistan who were most involved in the uprising at Bulgaria’s Harmanli refugee centre on November 24. After the uprising, Bulgaria’s authorities insisted that anyone who did not comply with the laws of the country could face deportation.
Buchvarova said that Afghans, legally residing in Bulgaria, were under investigation for spreading false information about a terrorist attack being prepared in Bulgaria.
She said that her statements on December 5 about an investigation into these allegations had been deliberately distorted. Buchvarova has reiterated that the allegations of a terrorist attack being planned, supposedly in retaliation for the quelling of the rebellion at Harmanli, are entirely untrue.
Buchvarova again hit out at Iliana Yotova, the socialist-backed vice-president-elect, over Yotova’s televised claims on December 5 that European financial support for Bulgaria’s border protection was a third smaller than announced and was linked to the construction of new refugee centres in the country.
Yotova had wanted to attend the launch of the new European Border Guard Service at Bulgaria’s Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint and Prime Minister Boiko Borissov had invited her, and at the event, Yotova had heard that the amount of European financial support was 160 million euro – not a penny less, Buchvarova said.
The Interior Minister said that on December 8, a sum of 59 million euro would be approved for asylum, migration and integration, and of this sum, only 1.7 million would be for new sites, the so-called “hot spots” to be used in the event of increased migration pressure.
Buchvarova described these as secure spaces, with electricity and sewerage, which would be able to accommodate containers or tents for up to 200 people.
Migrants would remain on such sites for no more than a month, by which time it would become clear whether they would receive protected status or would be returned.
Buchvarova described the refugee pressure on Bulgaria as currently extremely modest. In a week, only two people had been detained crossing the border illegally, while a further 120 had been prevented from entering the country./IBNA