The Simelka-Peshkhabour border crossing between Syria and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq reopened earlier this week, allowing 4,000 Syrian refugees to cross by barge to northern Iraq. The crossing had been closed since mid-September in the wake of an exodus of some 60,000 Syrians beginning in mid-August 2013.
At present there are 13 refugee Syrian camps or transit sites located in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and Al Obeidy camp in western Anbar Province. Iraq hosts 210,000 registered Syrian refugees.
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee a nongovernmental organization for the protection of human rights, founded in 1992 in Sofia, Bulgaria. For more than 20 years BHC has been carrying out independent and regular monitoring of prisons, juvenile homes, homes for children deprived of parental care and other closed institutions. Support our work by making a donation at http://www.bghelsinki.org/donate.
Recalling that every fourth women in this country is a victim of domestic violence and a quarter of a million Bulgarians have become subject of sexual harassment - together, we want to inform as to the real situation in Bulgaria and about support for victims.
On November 14, 2013 the Bulgarian Council of Ministers adopted the draft amendments to the Law on Asylum and Refugees (LAR). The amendments introduce the detention of asylum seekers in closed-type facilities, bail measures and denial of prompt access to their registration card.
The proposed amendments violate the rights of the most vulnerable group – children seeking asylum. Between January and December 2013 the children seeking asylum in Bulgaria are 2135. Some are unaccompanied by relatives or family.
Why is the detention of children in closed-type centers dangerous?
The deprivation of liberty damages a child’s normal development. It is unconditionally prohibited by the Bulgarian Child Protection Act.
Bail is a measure of deterrence and is only applied against persons accused of having committed a crime. Detention in closed-type centers is a compulsory administrative measure for irregular migrants, who are to be deported from the country. Thus, under the proposed LAR amendments, children seeking asylum will be treated as criminals and irregular migrants to be deported. A child seeking asylum cannot be deemed irregular migrant before a procedure of granting or refusing of international asylum has taken place.
The children seeking asylum in Bulgaria are not criminals. They are not irregular migrants either. The children seeking asylum are vulnerable. Let us protect them, not prosecute them.
Watch the video to learn how you can help the children seeking asylum.