Bulgarian police abuse refugees says Oxfam

Bulgarian border guards abuse refugees who want to seek asylum in wealthier EU countries says Oxfam

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A migrant baby crawls at a registration camp in Preshevo, Serbia October 25, 2015.

An international confederation of 17 organisations working in more than 90 countries worldwide that fights with poverty, Belgrade based Oxfam, says refugees are abused by Bulgarian police on their travel to European countries.

A report published by Oxfam on Friday, based on interviews by refugees walking through from Bulgaria into Serbia, stressing many cases of alleged police beatings and extortion.

According to report accounts of abuses in Bulgaria, include a group of around 10 interviewees witnessed a police holding a gun to a refugee’s forehead, while others lay down apparently unconscious.

Refugees are frightened of the situation in Bulgaria and they tried to hide from police, says report. Some of escapees were caught by police who were beating them and took their valuables including food and water.

Moreover, according to the report, witnesses say that they heard gunshots near Serbian border while police officers released dogs over refugees. Seven people from the escapees went missing and they have not had contact with them since.

Another accusation that is directed to Bulgarian police officers in the report is that the police had shot and wound two Afghan men to prevent their escape.

The Bulgarian government has not yet give any briefing about the allegations.

Also a large group of minors said, according to the report, 17 refugees managed to escape in behind the Turkish border while 15 of them detained and one was shot in the leg and an Afghan young man told that he has been pistol-whipped by police.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees who mostly are from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have been walking through Greece and Turkey to go to wealthier countries in Europe such as Germany, UK and Sweden.

Refugees and migrants arrive on an inflatable raft on the Greek island of Lesbos, November 11, 2015.

Nikolina Milic of the Belgrade Center for Human Rights said: "People arriving in Serbia have been sharing with us these terrible accounts of abuse they have been experiencing in Bulgaria over the last 5 months. This report will alert the world to what seems to be happening in Bulgaria on a daily basis. The dramatic and shocking ill-treatment of people fleeing conflict and poverty is totally unacceptable, particularly in an EU member state. We are calling for an independent investigation into the incidents in Bulgaria, and we call on the Bulgarian government to condemn these human rights abuses in the strongest terms possible."

Oxfam Director for South East Europe Stefano Baldini said that according to the report European Union has to intervene and take concrete actions to protect basic human rights within its borders.

"These testimonies present a consistent picture of alleged incidents in Bulgaria," he said according to BBC.

A refugee was shot dead last month by a Bulgarian border police after entering from the border of Turkey.

According to IOM (International Organization for Migration) 812,230 refugees, 3,499 of whom have been dead or missing, have arrived by sea in 2015 alone. 

TRTWorld and agencies