UN refugee agency welcomes Bulgaria's commitment to help Syrian asylum seekers

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Syrian asylum-seekers waiting to be registered with border police at Elhovo, near Bulgaria’s border with Turkey. UNHCR

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has welcomed assurances from the Bulgarian government to fix the dire conditions for Syrian and other asylum seekers in the country.

UNHCR says that so far this year, Bulgaria has received about 3,000 asylum applications mainly from the Middle East and Africa.

According to the agency, this is three times the yearly average of the past decade with August seeing a sharp rise to about 50 arrivals per day, mainly Syrian families.

Melissa Fleming is UNHCR spokesperson in Geneva.

"They are staying in accommodation centres that are literally overflowing with conditions that we consider both unsafe and dire, people sleeping in corridors, cooking on flimsy burners in crowded dormitories, children's spaces basically turned into makeshift spaces for families to sleep and live. Up to 100 people, for example are sharing a single bathroom, (with) no separate facilities for men, women and children." (29")

UNHCR says education and recreational activities are scant, and several hundred children are missing out entirely on school.

The agency adds that overcrowding is straining relations among asylum-seekers themselves who have to make ends meet on just over 1 Euro a day for food, clothes medicine and other necessities.

Donn Bobb, United Nations

Duration: 1’18″


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