“Migration – concepts, statistics, trends, distinctions, paranoia,” CLA – Voice in Bulgaria and BLHR in front of Radio “Binar”

Discussion with lawyers Yordanka Bekirska and Diana Radoslavova

Hosts: Anelia Velinova and Vladislav Katsarski

On March 30, 2017, attorney-at-law Yordanka Bekirska from “Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights” Foundation (BLHR) and attorney-at-law Diana Radoslavova of the Center for Legal Aid – Voice in Bulgaria (CLA), talked for an hour on the topic “Migration – terms statistics trends, distinctions, paranoia” live on Radio “Binar”. The conversation is the first of a series of such planned programs that will be dedicated on the topic of migration, which will be broadcasted on Radio Binar in the next two years. They are a part of the project “Protecting migrants with precarious status: decreasing the use of detention and applying community-based alternatives”, funded by the Network of European Foundations (NEF) through the European Program for Integration and Migration (EPIM). The two-year project is implemented in partnership by CLA and BLHR and started on January 1, 2017.

The program started with an introduction to the topic of migration, the problems of migrants and their needs and presentation of both organizations and projects. The guests clarified the meaning of terms such as “migration”, “immigration” and “refugee” and indicated that there is a lack of awareness on the topic. The role of the media in educating people was highlighted. According attorney-at-law Radoslavova, “People immigrate because of work, because they look for a better life, because of natural disasters, family reunifications. The majority of people migrate voluntarily, while a smaller portion are those that migrate involuntarily. They seek for a way to preserve their lives,” she said, “and this is how they find themselves on a territory that they did not choose. These are the people we call refugees and asylum seekers.” She gave a definition of the term refugee under the Law of Asylum and Refugees.

The guests talked about the Convention on the Status of Refugees of 1951 and the State Agency for Refugees. They presented the latest statistics on asylum seekers in Bulgaria and the main countries of origin of asylum seekers, arriving in the country, and clarified the difference between refugee and humanitarian status.

Topics like why people that have received a status do not want to stay in Bulgaria, what is the Dublin Regulation and the fingerprints database EURODAC were also discussed. The guests and hosts talked about “walls” – at the borders and in the minds of people; the lack of an integration program in Bulgaria, the staff shortages in reception centers for asylum seekers like interpreters, doctors and psychologists; the commitment of Bulgaria to meet its obligations in connection with the intake of refugees.

The different types of centers in the country and the difference between detention centers and reception centers, operated by the State Agency for Refugees (known as refugee camps), how many they are and what is their capacity, the different rules in each of them were explained to the listeners. Attorney-at-law Radoslavova pointed out the need to apply alternatives to detention in closed centers to a growing number of people with an “precarious status” remaining in Bulgaria so that they can be a safe part of our society.

The next talk on Radio “Binar” from the series of discussions on topics related to migration will be broadcasted in May 2017.

The broadcast is available here.