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news 03 Sep 15

Bulgaria Detains Hungary-Bound Migrants

Police have detained 125 migrants as Sofia authorities persevere in taking a tougher line on the issue than the country’s Balkan neighbours.

BIRN
Sofia
Sofia.

Bulgaria detained 125 migrants on Wednesday night in Sofia for illegally crossing the country without submitting asylum requests, in a further sign of policy divisions in the Balkans on how to handle the flow of westward-bound refugees.

The 125 were apparently on their way to Hungary. Officials said the 125 people, fleeing the Middle East, would be questioned and might obtain refugee status.

Unlike neighbouring Serbia and Macedonia, which have opted to ease a much larger flow of refugees across their territories, Bulgaria is attempting to keep migrants out by building a fence along its border with Turkey.

The Interior Ministry this week said it was considering opening six more registration centres “to prevent what is happening in Macedonia and Serbia”, referring to the unhindered flow of refugees.

“One of the reasons why Bulgaria has about 16,000 refugees, as opposed to 160,000 in Macedonia and many more in Greece, is that people and those who help them know that it is very difficult to pass through Bulgaria’s territory,” minister Rumyana Buchvarova said.

Only a relatively small number of migrants try to reach the west through Bulgaria, most preferring the route running from Turkey to Hungary via Greece, Macedonia and Serbia.

In Hungary, meanwhile, chaotic scenes continued at the capital’s main Keleti railway station, which the authorities closed earlier this week, preventing refugees from boarding trains to Austria.

The refugee crisis has exposed sharp divisions among all EU states as well as in the Balkans.

While Germany, France and Italy are calling for a quota system, by which the burden of receiving migrants would be spread across the EU, Britain and several East European states have said no.

Slovakia, meanwhile, has said it does not wish to take in Muslim incomers and will take in only a few hundred Syrian Christians.


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