Bulgarian Asylum System Pushes Migrants West

Bulgaria fails to integrate its refugees and routinely locks up asylum seekers, despite EU and national laws banning the use of detention centres, forcing even those who might otherwise stay to try their luck in western Europe...Romania is another Schengen candidate that currently receives a similar number of refugee applications to its neighbour Bulgaria. Bucharest is, however, better able to accommodate asylum seekers as the country has five open reception centres that can cater for 1,200 people at any one time. While the asylum rejection rate is high, Romania does grant tolerance status so asylum seekers whose cases cannot be decided – and who cannot be deported – may be granted indefinite leave to remain.
Romania is also a few steps ahead of Bulgaria when it comes to integration, according to a survey by the British Council’s Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX). MIPEX underlined that Bucharest, unlike Sofia, does provide its asylum seekers with relatively unfettered access to the employment market once they have been resident for a year. In addition, immigrants can take Romanian citizenship without surrendering their own nationality...
While this sounds very positive, the fact remains that Romania is unlikely to face the numbers of asylum seekers and immigrants that Bulgaria is expected to on joining Schengen. Its geographical position means it is unlikely to be targeted by illegal immigrants crossing into Europe via Turkey. “We don’t expect an increase in asylum applicants after Schengen membership, Romania is a poor country and this is why it is not attractive [to migrants],” says Carolina Marin, a lawyer working with the UN refugee agency in Bucharest and for AEQUITAS, an NGO working with asylum seekers in Romania.
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