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Syrian crisis impacts Bulgaria’s border towns and their property markets

22 November 13

The flow of Syrian refugees into Bulgaria has now reached 10,000 according to the Ministry of Interior, it is thought that approximately 50 people per day are attempting to enter the European Union via the south eastern Bulgarian border with Turkey. The Bulgarian state has deployed 1,600 police officers in the region of Elhovo, the once a famous rural village amongst British and Irish holiday home buyers seeking affordable tranquil villas.  The population is typically just 10,000 inhabitants, but has now swelled by more than 15% leaving no available accommodation and a boom in local businesses, all restaurants, hotels and shops are benefiting considerably. The police force are expected to stay in place until Syrian crisis subsides, the timescale for which cannot be accurately predicted.


The Bulgarian authorities have begun construction of a 35km fence along the key border crossing areas, which is expected to complete in March 2014. It is thought that a 12.5km fence previously erected by the Greeks along their border has diverted traffic towards Bulgaria and concentrated crossings there. EU law entitles such perimeters, but not to push back refugees without processing, hence a fleet of Land Rovers patrols by night across endless fields and forest. The Bulgarian government makes the clear point that when Syrians are identified they are not returned, they are taken to refugees camps for appropriate care. However, many other nationalities are using the heightened flow to enter the EU under the disguise of being Syrian refugees, today seven Al-Qaeda suspects were deported having entered in this way. The threat is very real and should not go unreported and unnoticed by the rest of 'Fortress Europe'.



People smugglers are charging Syrians 300 Euros / person to get them across the border, typically picking the spots between the patrols to get them a little way into Bulgarian territory, then calling the European 112 emergency services claiming a mortally ill person in this location. The emergency services react and naturally locate the refugees as a result without any actual immediate medical emergency. It has become a huge strain on the country’s resources.

The humanitarian situation is considered dire by the UNCHR as the authorities struggle to cope to provide sanitary conditions for the incoming refugees; camps of prefabricated tents built for 400 house 1,000. As the winter sets in this will only deteriorate as conditions are only likely to worsen. The state has appealed to the EU for 8 million Euros of emergency funding to assist with the crisis as this South Eastern border of the European community falls entirely to the Bulgarians to manage.


The Bulgarian state has been accused of deliberately keeping conditions low in order to deter refugees, but in reality many are thought to be only entering the EU via Bulgaria and are moving inward to more wealthy states where asylum and financial aid will be more forthcoming; Germany, Sweden and the UK are thought to be the ultimate target areas.  Despite this, social unrest in the capital of Europe’s poorest country has escalated; a month ago a Bulgarian female student was stabbed by a Syrian in central Sofia, although connected to the refugee crisis and the civil war only by his passport, the nation reacted unfavourably and fuelled daily protests in the streets.