Bulgaria is building a fence in part of its border with Turkey to thwart the entry of illegal migrants, most of them asylum seekers flying from the war in Syria. According to he Sofia News Agency Novinite.com, the facility is a 107 km wire fence between the towns of Lesovo and Kraynovo and will be ready by February next year. Over 8,000 Syrian asylum seekers already crossed the border.
This is happening precisely after the UN refugee agency or UNHCR expressed its concern about severe difficulties growing numbers of Syrians seeking safety in Europe face during their passage and urged the countries to keep the borders open. It comes also at the same time the EU decided to reinforce the operations of search and rescue in the Mediterranean but to delay a reform of the immigration reform until June 2014.
A fence would not solve the problem of the Syrian refugees trying to reach Europe. The EU with its wealth and its capabilities must address this issue with a sense of solidarity without delay and not leave alone the countries that have the problem of the refugees arriving at their borders taking measures like this one of the fence in Bulgaria.
Syrian refugees and asylum seekers are arriving by thousands to Europe by sea from the South to Italy. Others are trying to leave Turkey and enter Europe from the East through the border with Bulgaria.
After several incidents with deaths of Syrian refugees trying to left the region by sea, last october 18, UNHCR chief spokeswoman Melissa Fleming called “upon states beyond Syria‘s immediate region to explore concrete and meaningful ways of expressing solidarity, notably with a view to sharing the immense burden and protection responsibilities currently being assumed by the countries neighbouring Syria and its vicinity, such as Egypt. Warning signs in some hosting countries testify to the potentially destabilizing impact of the Syrian refugee influx that aggravates the already severe political, security, and economic repercussions of the Syria conflict.”
The EU failed to answer her call in the last summit. The State Members cited the principle of solidarity for the future reform of the immigration policy but nothing specific was decided only a date in the future to discuss again the matter.
The UNHCR gave a lot of ideas. It said in a press release that apart from much-needed solidarity through financial and other contributions to affected countries in the region for addressing the humanitarian and emergency development needs, solidarity could take the form of humanitarian admission, resettlement, simplified and expedited family reunion, facilitated visa procedures and the extension of student or employment-related visas. UNHCR further calls on countries beyond the region to ensure appropriate treatment and protection for Syrians by ensuring access to territory and to swift and fair asylum procedures. Generous approaches to protection are needed, including non-penalization of those arriving without identity documents (or otherwise in an irregular manner) and high refugee recognition rates coupled with the granting of associated rights, added the agency. States could also offer flexibility in the application of family reunification criteria and procedures, as would be the dispensing with certain visa requirements and facilitation of the entry of Syrians for work, study, family or humanitarian purposes under national programmes.