Bulgaria to extend border fence against migrant influx
SOFIA - Agence France-Presse
DHA PhotoBulgaria announced plans Wednesday to extent a 30-kilometer fence along its border with Turkey, a major entry point for migrants trying to get into the European Union.
The existing fence topped with razor wire along the easiest part of the border to cross cut the number of refugees making it into Bulgaria to around 6,000 in 2014 from 11,000 in 2013, interior ministry data showed.
But at the same time, authorities noted the number of attempts to cross Bulgaria's 275-kilometre border with Turkey doubled to 38,500.
"The government firmly believes we need to extend it... by 82 kilometers, costing about 90 million leva (46 million euros, $54 million)," Prime Minister Boyko Borisov told parliament on Wednesday.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and rights groups have criticised the existing three-metre-high fence, saying it forces refugees to take more dangerous routes into the European Union such as by sea.
A sudden influx of refugees in recent years has caused a humanitarian crisis in Bulgaria, already the poorest member of the EU. Many from war-torn Syria and elsewhere are having to endure freezing winter weather crammed into former army barracks and tents without heating, basic sanitation or enough food.