BTA News

18,000 Migrants Detained by Bulgarian Authorities January to November

The Bulgarian authorities detained 18,008 citizens of non-EU countries between January and November 2023, up by 15.4% compared with a year earlier, according to the Interior Ministry’s latest data about the migration situation in Bulgaria.

Law enforcers detected 14,599 migrants staying illegally in the country’s interior over the 11-month period, which implies an increase by 31.5% year on year. Syrians accounted for the largest share (50.1%), followed by people from Afghanistan (32.7%) and Morocco (11%).

The same period saw the arrest of 1,560 inbound and 1,849 unregistered outbound migrants at the Bulgarian national border, the Interior Ministry said.

On December 24 Interior Ministry Secretary General Zhivko Kotsev described unregulated migration and trafficking in migrants as huge challenges. On December 22, the holiday of the Border Police, its Director Anton Zlatanov said that 2023 has been tough and dynamic, but also rewarding. He noted that Bulgaria received a wonderful report from 14 EU member states which ended a border security review mission in late November.

Border Police data show that about 176,000 attempts by non-EU citizens to enter Bulgaria illegally were foiled between January and November 2023, which was 13% more than in the like period in 2022. These people went back into the interior of the neighbouring countries by themselves after they saw Bulgarian patrols and guards on the border.

Bulgaria’s border with Turkiye presents the greatest challenge. It takes more than 99% of the migrant pressure on the entire Bulgarian border. The authorities have thwarted 175,500 border trespassing attempts from Turkiye since January. The Bulgarian Interior Ministry has stopped over 193,000 illegal migrants from getting to the heart of Europe this year.

The Interior Ministry has reported the disruption of several groups trafficking in migrants in 2023. In August the Interior Ministry and the prosecution service set up a special unit to assist the investigation of human trafficking and illegal migration. At the end of that month the National Assembly approved more severe punishments for trafficking in illegal migrants.

The outgoing year has also been marked by traffic accidents and other incidents related to migrant trafficking. People have been killed or injured in such cases.

Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov estimates that over 90% of the members of migrant trafficking rings in Bulgaria are not Bulgarian citizens. Most of the proceeds from such criminal activity are generated outside Bulgaria, Stoyanov said.