Polish volunteers on Monday distributed aid to Syrian refugees who have sought asylum in Bulgaria.
Some 22 tons (about 22-thousand kilograms) of food and clothing arrived from Poland on Monday at the biggest Bulgarian-based refugee camp in the city of Harmanli.
The aid comes in the wake of United Nations criticism of asylum seekers’ access to food and health care in Bulgaria, and registration delays.
Bulgaria, a nation of 7.3 (m) million people and the European Union’s poorest member, has been caught unprepared by the surge of refugees who are straining the country’s asylum system.
Some 11,600 refugees, 60 percent of them from war-torn Syria, are in crammed settlements in Bulgaria.
Many had sought to get to richer Western nations, but under EU rules they were returned to the first EU country they entered.
Officials at a refugee camp in Harmanli are preparing to give out temporary residency documents to some refugees, an interim step while they wait on permanent residency status.
Some refugees asked if they could stay in the housing provided at the camp, even when they’ve received the documentation.
Yordan Malinov, the camp director said there wasn’t enough space for people who receive residency.
“New refugees will come and we will have to put up tents, if those with green cards don’t want to leave, even though they have a solution,” Malinov said.
Some refugees would rather go back to Syria.
Student Mohammed Khalil said he isn’t hopeful of the outcome for Syrian peace talks, dubbed Geneva II, set to begin on Wednesday in Switzerland.
“I wish I will go back to Syria,” Khalil said.
“I like Syria, I lived in Syria my whole lifetime. So I love it. I want to go back to my family, because I miss them. I miss my land, my country,” he continued.
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