Target: Plamen Oresharski, Prime Minister of Bulgaria
Goal: Urge the Bulgarian government to expedite its handling of refugees’ asylum requests so that they can be released from detention
Syrian refugees that have fled their war-torn country and arrived in Bulgaria through the Turkish border are stuck for months in crowded refugee shelters while waiting for their asylum requests to be granted. Only once they have legal status can they lead a normal life with a right to freedom of movement, employment, and a private residence. The living conditions in the five Bulgarian refugee shelters are abysmal. There are as many as fourteen people to a room. As they are not allowed to leave the premises, they are permanently confined to this crowded environment where even bathroom use is complicated.
As it takes up to six months to process requests for asylum, many refugees, frustrated by having to wait so long for their detention to end, have gone on a hunger strike. Thirty-two of them are starving at the Lyubimets center for the temporary accommodation of foreigners to protest the slow handling of their applications for asylum. At the Busmantsi detention facility, fifty refugees are likewise refusing food but with a different demand in mind — the right to leave their quarters and move around freely in the vicinity.
On average, only 10% of the refugees are granted legal status in Bulgaria; the rest must resubmit their applications either in Bulgaria or in another European country. Since it is cruel to leave people lingering in overcrowded detention centers without freedom of movement for months at a time, the Bulgarian government should speed up the application process so that the refugees can regain their freedom as soon as possible. That way they will have the chance to leave the country and petition for asylum elsewhere if they are not granted legal status in Bulgaria.
The Syrian refugees deserve better living conditions and the right to go about as they wish without being confined like prisoners. Sign this petition to urge the Bulgarian government to expedite the handling of refugee applications so that they can be released from the detention camps.
Dear Plamen Oresharski, Prime Minister of Bulgaria
Please process the asylum applications of Syrian refugees more quickly so that they don’t have to be stuck in detention centers. It is sad to see a population that had fled its country to escape war suffer yet again in Bulgaria because the living conditions of the refugee centers are so poor. There’s no freedom of movement; these men, women, and children must stay within their crowded rooms housing up to 14 people at all times and cannot circulate freely on the streets nearby, never mind travel around within the country.
It is quite ironic for these Syrians to have escaped a war zone that kept them locked up in their homes out of fear of encountering violence on the streets only to be cooped up once again in a narrow space without the possibility of leaving it. It is cruel to detain the refugees for months in an overcrowded facility where they are left in the dark about whether or not they will be granted asylum and allowed to legally stay in the country. They deserve decent housing and the freedom of movement. To allow them to live in freedom and dignity, we urge you to process their applications for asylum as soon as possible.
Photo credit: Equestenebrarum via Wikimedia Commons