Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update


Country Report: Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update Last updated: 21/04/23


Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Visit Website

The report was previously updated in February 2022.


National context

The situation of political instability in Bulgaria remained an issue throughout 2022. Beginning from April 2021, with the end of the government mandate of the GERB party, which ruled the country for over 12 years. The following general elections in April 2021 failed to produce a regular government. Two more general elections followed in July and in November 2021. Meanwhile, the country was governed by a caretaker cabinet appointed by President Rumen Radev, known for his pro-Russian orientation[1] and anti-immigrant and anti-refugee positions[2]. In December 2021, a regular wide-coalition government was finally formed, led by the We Continue the Change (PP) party – a newly formed political formation with pro-EU orientation and proclaimed anti-corruption agenda. It was under its rule that, in February 2022, Bulgaria started granting access to the territory and host large numbers of displaced people fleeing from the war in Ukraine.

Under national arrangements the government,[3] instead of the national Asylum Agency, is responsible for granting and managing temporary protection. After the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the regular government took measures which, for the period from 24 February to 22 June 2022, provided access to the territory of a total of 361,439 Ukrainians to Bulgaria, of whom 119,057 received state-provided food support and shelter; 117,591 registered for temporary protection (12,340 men; 59,498 women; 45,261 children, and 492 unaccompanied minors), and 83,215 have remained in Bulgaria. However, the regular government failed to adopt both the prepared draft amendments, and a long-term integration plan for the Ukrainian refugees, as it was ousted by a vote of no confidence on 22 June 2022, resulting in the dissolution of Parliament on 1 July 2022.

On 2 August 2022, President Rumen Radev appointed the next caretaker government, which continues to govern in 2023, as the snap parliamentary elections held in October 2022 did not manage to produce a regular government with next elections scheduled for April 2023. The caretaker cabinet’s approach to management of the temporary protection (TP) has been, at least up to the time of publication of the report, characterized by inaction and refusal to uphold the humanitarian support and integration in the margins previously provided to Ukrainian refugees. This approach culminated, on 16 November 2022,[4] in the adopted dire restrictions of the Program for Humanitarian Assistance to Displaced Persons from Ukraine with granted Temporary Protection (HAP Programme). They severely limited state-funded accommodation options and completely abolished state food support for TP holders. It also forced newly arriving Ukrainians, who wanted to benefit from state-funded accommodation, to travel on their own costs to the detention centre in Elhovo on the opposite border near Türkiye to be re-distributed to the available accommodation facilities. These restrictions, especially the lack of food support, were strongly opposed by the non-governmental organisations, followed by litigation[5] with the court ruling out standstill[6] on government’s decision to abolish the food provision. Notwithstanding the caretaker cabinet did not undertake any measures to resolve the issue, which left all Ukrainian temporary protection holders without any food support beside the one provided by charity, international and non-governmental organisations. This caused many Ukrainian refugees to leave the country. By 31 December 2022 out of a total of 149,268 Ukrainians registered under temporary protection, only 49,704 persons displaced by the war in Ukraine (33%), remained in Bulgaria.


Asylum procedure

  • Access to the territory: Bulgaria applied different approaches to granting access to the territory for persons seeking asylum and protection. Immediately after 24 February 2022, the regular government and the Border Police adopted instructions to ensure the access to the territory of all displaced persons from the war in Ukraine, regardless of the validity or the possession of travel or identity documents.[7] Within a month, 1,755 police officers were trained and mobilized to support the process of registration of Ukrainian refugees, along with adjustments of the State Agency for Refugees (SAR) database. Registration offices for temporary protection were organized not only in the four SAR reception centres in Sofia, Harmanli, Banya and Pastrogor, but also in all regional police departments throughout the country, which facilitated and accelerated the access to registration and protection. Thanks to this system, Ukrainian refugees who stated their wish to avail themselves under the temporary protection scheme in Bulgaria were immediately registered and immediately issued a document for granted temporary protection. As of 31 December 2022, a total of 997,344 Ukrainians gained access to the territory of Bulgaria, of which 149,268 individuals were registered as persons with temporary protection. On the other hand, the number of arrivals at the southern borders continued to increase, with Syria, Afghanistan, Morocco, and Iraq being the most represented countries of origin of newly arrived migrants. While 3,487 individuals entered the country in 2020, this figure increased to 10,799 migrants in 2021, and reached 16,767 new entries in 2022. Accordingly, the number of persons who sought international protection increased from 3,525 in 2020, and 10,999 in 2021, to reach 20,407 asylum seekers in 2022 – an increase of 86% compared to 2021 and of 481% compared to 2020. This brought to a dramatic increase of pushback practices registered through the national monitoring mechanism,[8] establishing another negative record with 5,268 alleged pushbacks affecting 87,647 persons. Verbal abuse and physical violence, reported since 2015,[9] as well as the humiliating practices of unlawful detention, strip searches and illegal confiscation of footwear, clothing and other belongings reached massive proportions in the last year. Despite these malpractices, an undetermined number of persons continued to enter, transit, and exit the country. From the mid to the end of the year, several widely reported incidents made clear that a significant number of migrants,[10] including large groups, still managed to cross the border, enter the territory, board onto various vehicles and cross the country on their exit routes predominantly to Serbian and Romanian borders, which could not be possible without the passive or active complicity of the police authorities and the public prosecution responsible for the investigation and punishment of human smuggling and trafficking. According to FRONTEX,[11] in 2022, the increase in people entering Europe via the Eastern Mediterranean route was of 108% (42,831 migrants), and 136% (145,600 migrants) via the Western Balkans route, with Bulgaria standing at the doorstep of both.
  • Access to the procedure: Migrants detained at the borders generally did not have guaranteed access to the procedure, as only 3% reportedly received direct access and accommodation in a SAR reception centre without first being sent and detained in a MOI deportation centre.[12] On the other hand, a significant improvement was noticed with respect to the access to procedure for asylum seekers who managed to enter the country and reach the SAR registration centres independently without being detained by the police, the so called ‘self-reported asylum seekers’. In the past, the asylum agency refused to register them and alerted the police, who detained them in the deportation centres of the Ministry of the Interior. In 2022, the refugee agency almost completely discontinued this malpractice; out of 9,280 self-reported asylum seekers, only 1% (94 people) were refused registration and consequently detained. Unlawful procedures in MOI deportation centres were also almost eradicated, as during the year they were applied to only 2 detained asylum seekers.
  • Absconding and secondary movements: 46% (14,474 persons) out of 31,592 asylum seekers with pending proceedings abandoned the asylum procedure in Bulgaria in 2022.[13] This was a significant increase compared to 26% in 2021, 39% in 2020, but still lower than 83% in 2019. The usual reasons motivating asylum seekers to abandon their asylum procedures in Bulgaria and abscond were the congested procedures, low recognition rated for some nationalities as well as poor reception conditions (see Reception Conditions).
  • Length and quality of the procedure: In total, 8,000 files with drafted, but decisions which still had to be issued were inherited by the new management of the SAR[14] as of 1 April 2022,[15] with many being delayed by more than 5 to 7 months beyond the legally set deadline.[16] Of these, 4,700 files had been pending with decisions drafted and ready to be issued; most cases regarded Syrian applicants. During the period between January and March 2022, the SAR issued a total of 2,152 decisions, of which 16 decisions granting refugee status, 789 decisions granting humanitarian status, 87 refusals of international protection and 1,621 discontinuations of the procedure, mainly due to absconding. Thus, in the first quarter of the year, the SAR issued an average of 837 monthly decisions. From mid-April to mid-May the SAR did not issue decisions due to a hacker attack against its database. After that, during the period between May and December 2022, the asylum authority issued 16,780 decisions, of which 84 decisions granting refugee status, 3,485 decisions granting humanitarian status, 358 refusals of international protection and 12,853 discontinuations of the procedure.[17] It represented a 667% increase in comparison with the first quarter, or 2,097 decisions monthly on average. The average length of the procedure in the second half of the year decreased to 6 months. Several improvements in the standards and quality of the asylum procedure were also observed,[18] which positively affected recognition rates.
  • Recognition and refusal rates: Except for Syrian nationals, over an extended period recognition rates for all other nationalities were below 8% on average. Certain applicants, such as those coming from Afghanistan and Türkiye, were treated discriminatory and their cases were overwhelmingly considered as manifestly unfounded, which resulted in extremely low recognition rates.[19] In 2022, the overall recognition rate increased to 91% of all decisions on the merits. Although the refugee recognition decreased to 2%,[20] the subsidiary protection rate (humanitarian status) increased significantly, to reach 89%.[21] The rejection rate decreased to 9%,[22] when considering only decisions issued on the substance of asylum claims. These ratios also reflect the countries of origin of asylum seekers, entering Bulgaria, 77% of whom were from Syria (42%) and Afghanistan (35%). For the first time in a decade, Afghan applicants were treated non-discriminatory, enjoying a 49% overall recognition rate (14% refugee recognition rate and 35% subsidiary protection rate). The vast majority (95%) of Afghan applicants,[23] however, continued to abscond before receiving a first instance decision, which was issued on the merits in just 0.7% of the caseload .[24]
  • Relocation and resettlement: Since 2015, Bulgaria accepted 88 individuals under the relocation scheme, of whom 76 individuals from Greece and 10 individuals from Italy. Since the EU-Türkiye deal, out of the agreed number of 110 individuals in total 85 Syrian refugees have been resettled so far. Hence, no relocation or resettlements were implemented in 2022.


Reception conditions

  • Reception centers: Since 2015, the conditions at national reception centers have been deteriorating, with support limited to accommodation, nutrition and rudimentary medical help without provision of psychological care or assistance.[25] Except Vrazhdebna shelter and the two safe zones for unaccompanied children at the Sofia reception centre, all other SAR shelters and centers during this seven-year period experienced recurring problems regarding infrastructure and material conditions, and in some instances failed to provide even the most basic services, including adequate hygiene products for personal and communal spaces. For many years, the SAR claimed that the maximum capacity of its reception centres was of 5,160 places.[26] However, in December 2022 the new management indicated that the actual maximum reception capacity was only of 3,932 individuals,[27] as the remaining 1,228 places were located in premises assessed as unfit for living, due also to the fact that the SAR did not destine part of its budget for repairs or refurbishment.[28] Temporary protection holders were not accommodated in SAR reception centres; due to the large number of arrivals, their accommodation was secured outside them, under a Humanitarian Aid Program adopted in March by the regular government (see Temporary Protection).[29] Regardless, the increase by 85% of asylum seekers registered in the country compared to 2021, further worsened the situation relating to reception capacity, also since SAR’s 2022 budget for accommodation, food, medical and other key assistance has been calculated based on a forecast of up to 10,000 new individuals to be hosted in reception centres,[30] while the real number of newly arrived asylum seekers during the year was double the expected figure.[31] The sole reason overcrowding could be avoided was the high absconding rate registered for Afghan applicants – representing the second largest country of origin of asylum seekers in the country -, which reached 95%.[32] The main reason for this high rate is to be found in the low recognition rates that Afghan nationals received in the country over the last decade, which discouraged them from remaining in Bulgaria. This discriminatory approach however began to diminish in 2022 (see Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure), and might motivate more Afghan applicants to remain until their first instance decisions are issued. While this is to be regarded as a positive development, it could further aggravate the situation of reception centres in the country, given the reduced national reception capacity. Food in reception centres was provided through catering arrangements. In mid-2022, however, the contracts concluded in 2020 expired. The new contracts, valid for a period of two years with the value of three meals per day has been agreed to BGN 6.00, equal to EUR 3.06, as per the lowest price condition within an already scarce budget. These catering contracts will expire at the end of 2023, while just in 2022 the rate of inflation reached +17%.[33] This forced the SAR new management, towards the middle of 2022 to look for donations to secure food provision in asylum reception centres. To provide an example, from April 12 to May 15, food in the reception centre of Harmanli, the largest in the country, was provided entirely through donations (see, Reception Conditions,Access and forms of reception conditions). That is why in 2022 the asylum seekers continued to complain not only about the quality of the food, but also about its insufficient quantity. Apart from the mobilization of donors, the other reason that helped avoiding reaching a point of critical malnutrition for asylum seekers was, as mentioned above regarding overcrowding, the high rate of abandonment of the procedure by Afghan asylum seekers. The running costs for medicines and medical supplies, Bulgarian language courses as well as urgent maintenance and refurbishment were covered only to the extent of the remaining funds of a SAR AMIF project, which ended on 31 December 2022. No tenders for the supply of clothes, shoes or other basic items were opened by SAR, due to the lack of any funds destined for these necessities in its annual budget.[34] To be able to meet these needs at least partially, the SAR had to negotiate nine separate donor agreements throughout the year with different agencies, organizations and individuals, e.g. food products (Food Bank), mattresses, pillows, blankets, bed linen and hygiene packages (UNHCR with BGN 700,000 donation), medicines and medical supplies (Red Cross), textbooks and other school items (Caritas), toys and other children’s items (UNICEF).[35] Preventive measures against the spread of infectious diseases, such as scabies and pyoderma, as well as provision of personal hygiene and treatment packages were again delivered through donations, and again – due to lack of budget, with the Red Cross providing the major part of the necessary medicines. The country’s shortage of general medical practitioners was the main reason for which medical care for asylum seekers had to be mainly carried out in the surgeries organised in Sofia and Harmanli reception centres, with a total of 29,071 outpatient examinations realised until the end of the year.[36] Access to subsequent and specialized medical treatment remained difficult for asylum seekers. One of the most persisting problems in reception centres in recent years has been that of vermin infestation, such as bed bugs, lice, cockroaches, and rats. Monthly disinfection and pest control activities began in May 2022, based on contracted services for a period of 12 months and was regularly carried out in all reception centres. However, crumbling buildings and poor sewage conditions meant that no significant improvement could be registered, and sanitation levels remained close to, or below, the minimum standard. The most serious concern remained the safety and security of asylum seekers accommodated in reception centres. These continue to be seriously compromised due to the presence of smugglers, drug dealers and sex workers who have access to reception centres during the night hours without any interference from the private security staff. Starting from May, the SAR began to carry out monthly security inspections along with targeted checks following separate security or public disorder complaints. During the period from 1 April 1 to 23 December SAR reported[37] having held numerous meetings with the security company’s management in attempt to mitigate security concerns and address the identified security failures, including lacking security guards at some of the designated posts.[38] In August non-governmental organisations raised alarm demanding[39] concrete measures to ensure the personal safety in reception centres. After that, the SAR submitted several requests to the Ministry of Interior to provide police guards in replacement of private security of reception centres, however all requests were rejected,[40] both by the Interior Minister of the regular government as well as the one of the caretaker cabinet. A police detail is secured only in the largest Harmanli reception centre, which, however, is just one and located at the central entrance, therefore insufficient to ensure the safety and security of nearly 4,000 individuals accommodated in. The rest of the reception centres continue to be guarded by private security companies, which for the purposes of cost effectiveness usually employ as guards predominantly men of retirement age or above and therefore, therefore security services result more performative than effective.
  • Access to benefits: Asylum seekers who decide to live outside reception centres at their own expenses are not entitled to any social benefits.[41] Asylum seekers who are not self-sufficient are entitled to accommodation in the available reception centres, three meals per day, basic medical assistance and psychological support,[42] even though the latter is not secured in practice. Monthly cash allowance is not provided since 2015.[43] Access to any other social benefits under the EU acquis is not guaranteed by law, nor provided in practice, still raising concerns about the compliance with Articles 17, 18 and 25 of the recast Reception Conditions Directive.
  • Access to the labour market: During the asylum procedure, asylum seekers have unconditional access to the labour market after a period of three months from their personal registration.[44] In 2022, the State Refugee Agency issued 302 work permits to asylum seekers who were looking to support themselves while their asylum claims were being processed.[45] Out of them, only 12 asylum seekers were employed alongside 5 persons granted protection, of whom only 1 person granted protection and 10 asylum seekers did so through employment programs, while the rest found work independently and on their own initiative.[46] At the same time a total of 2,214 persons with temporary protection were employed, of whom 191 persons found work independently, 16 persons through employment programs and 2,007 persons under schemes of the EU OP Human Resources Development program[47].
  • Safe zone for unaccompanied children: In 2022, the two safe zones for accommodation of unaccompanied children seeking protection continued to function. Both zones are organized at the registration and reception centre (RRC) in Sofia, namely in the dormitory in the Voenna Rampa district, which mainly accommodates children from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the dormitory in the Ovcha Kupel district, hosting children from Arab countries of origin. As the government did not to provide additional maintenance and management budget to SAR for the safe zones, in 2022 they continued to be funded by AMIF under a project managed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which ends on 31.12.2023. The two safe zones were deemed to provide round-o-clock care and support tailored to unaccompanied children’s specific and individual needs. However, as far as the both safe zones were designated at separate floors in the common dormitories in “Voenna Rampa” and “Ovcha Kupel” shelters, the outstanding security problems of the reception centres, especially in their surroundings, indirectly affected the situation of unaccompanied children. In 2022, the number of unaccompanied children who sought protection in Bulgaria continued to grow[48] and again the capacity of the two safe zones (a total of 288 places) proved insufficient to shelter all arriving children. Many unaccompanied children continued to be accommodated outside the safe-zones in mixed premises with adults and without proper support and guaranteed personal safety, including in the largest reception centre in Harmanli, South-Central Bulgaria in the border area with Türkiye. At the end of 2022 the new SAR management[49] and UNICEF agreed on funding for a third safe-zone for unaccompanied children to be open in Harmanli reception centre, which is expected to become operational at the end of 2023 after the completion of the necessary refurbishment and logistics.


Detention of asylum seekers

  • Detention in pre-removal centres: The average detention duration in 2022 continued to decrease to 4 working days or 6 calendar days.[50] As a result, of all foreigners who applied for protection in a police detention centre, 87%[51] were released on average 2 working days before the statutory deadline, and 0% were unlawfully detained for more than 6 months. This showed a 1% improvement compared to the previous 2021. First introduced in 2015, the SAR practice of registering asylum seekers in police pre-removal (detention) centres to meet the registration deadline,[52] as well as conducting proceedings and delivering decisions in these detention centres, was not sanctioned by national courts,[53] which in general perceived it as an insignificant infringement of the procedure. In 2022, the SAR almost completely abandoned this malpractice, with only 1 registration and only 1 determination conducted in a police pre-removal detention center.[54]
  • Detention in closed reception centers: The national legislation allows detention pending asylum procedure although on limited conditions and for the shortest period possible.[55] Since the introduction of the provision,[56] in total 116 asylum seekers have been detained in closed reception center[57] pending their status determination situation mainly based on national security, of whom 39 asylum seekers in 2022.[58] The average duration of detention in closed reception centers however continued to decrease, reaching 56 days on average in 2022.[59]


Content of international protection

  • Integration: Two districts – “Vitosha” and “Oborishte”, of the metropolitan municipality remained the only ones to have contracted integration agreements with newly recognized refugees in Bulgaria. In 2022, just 6 families with total 20 individuals approximately including the minor children signed 6 integration agreements.[60] It represented a retreat from 2021, when a total of 83 refugees received integration support from these two metropolitan district administrations on the basis of 17 integration agreements. No other integration measures or activities were planned, funded or available to individuals granted international protection – refugee or humanitarian status. The program for the integration of displaced persons from Ukraine under temporary protection drafted by the regular government was not adopted as this government was ousted by a vote of no confidence on 22 June 2022. Therefore, Bulgaria marked the ninth consecutive year of the national “zero integration” policy.
  • Special measures for unaccompanied children: А positive change was achieved regarding care and accommodation of unaccompanied children, seeking or granted international protection. The asylum authority, SAR, began to actively search for opportunities to accommodate unaccompanied children in licensed family-type children’s centers (ЦНСТ). During the procedure such efforts were undertaken with regard mainly to minor asylum-seeking children, children with special needs or such identified as being at increased risk of trafficking or harm. After recognition, these efforts targeted all unaccompanied children, excluding those in family reunification procedures, whom were allowed to wait the reunification with their parents or other family members in SAR reception centres.[61] As a result of this positive practice, a total of 26 unaccompanied children were accommodated during the course of the year in specialized childcare centres, of whom 2 were asylum seeking children and 24 children granted international protection. Altogether ten licensed childcare centers have engaged in this practice in localities across the country, namely in Sofia, Burgas, Vidin, Ruse, Kardzhali, Novo Selo and Zvanichevo. At the same time the lack of specialized training of the childcare center’s staff to work with unaccompanied children seeking or granted protection should be acknowledged and taken into account.
  • Cessation and withdrawal: In 2020, a new provision introduced an additional cessation clause.[62] The law permitted cessation or revocation of the international protection if the status holders fail, in a period of thirty days, to renew their expired Bulgarian identity documents or to replace them if they have been lost, stolen or destroyed. The undue cessation of international protection has affected 4,405 status holders in total since then, respectively – 770 persons in 2018; 2,608 persons in 2019; 886 persons in 2020 and 100 persons in 2021 and 41 persons in 2022. 


Temporary protection (see Annex)

Temporary protection procedure

  • Legal framework: According to national legislation, temporary protection is granted with the so-called general administrative act (общ административен акт). According to the law,[63] these are acts issued by a central authority, agency or administration with an automatic legal effect, which create rights to an indefinite number of persons, defined by common circumstances or characteristic. Under the national asylum law,[64] the government (Council of Ministers) grants temporary protection, if it is activated by a decision of the EU Council, the latter also determining its duration. Therefore the government’s act to grant temporary protection is group-based, collective and automatic by nature thus covering all individuals from the specified country with an immediate legal effect. On 10 March 2022 the Bulgarian government adopted Decision No.144,[65] which granted temporary protection to displaced persons from Ukraine and which entered into force on the date of its publication on 14 March 2022. The decision was given explicitly a retroactive effect to cover all persons displaced from Ukraine from 24 February 2022 onward. Hence until 14 March 2022 all Ukrainian refugees who claimed asylum in Bulgaria were still registered as asylum seekers (applicants for international protection) with individual determination procedures and decisions. However from 15 March 2022 onward any Ukrainian refugee who entered the country and stated before the authorities to seek protection has to be immediately issued a document,[66] which certify their legal status as a person granted a temporary protection in Bulgaria and valid for its duration.[67]
  • Access to asylum: The national asylum law established the right of the TP holders to also submit an individual application for international protection.[68] However, an asylum procedure is not open and the application of the TP holder is not examined or decided prior the end of duration of the temporary protection.[69]


Content of temporary protection

  • Residence permit: In general, the Bulgarian asylum system does not require any additional residence permit to be issued by the immigration police for the beneficiary of the granted protection to be able to remain in the country on its account. Hence, the decision granting international protection issued by the asylum authority (SAR) is sufficient for the protection holder to be able to apply for an identity document that is issued automatically. This arrangement applies also to TP beneficiaries. The decision of the government to grant temporary protection is sufficient for them to be automatically issued the respective TP document, if and when they approach a registration office.[70]
  • Rights of temporary protection holders: The scope of rights to which the TP holders are entitled are outlined by the law and apply for the duration of the temporary protection.[71] Therefore, all displaced persons granted temporary protection have the right to:
    • remain in the country
    • work and have access to vocational trainings
    • appropriate accommodation or means of accommodation if necessary
    • social assistance
    • health insurance, medical assistance and services under the conditions and procedures applicable for the Bulgarian citizens,[72] with the exception of medical assistance provided under Regulation (EEC) No. 1408/71 on the application of social security schemes to employed persons, to self-employed persons and to members of their families moving within the EU.
    • return freely to their country of origin.




[1] Balkan Insight, Bulgaria’s Rapid-Fire Political Crises Suit One Man – President Radev, 1 September 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3lNjgEs.

[2] Dariknews, Дебатът на годината: Радев vs Герджиков, 18 November 2021, available in Bulgarian at: https://bit.ly/3EHRv7C.

[3] Article 2(2) in conjunction with Articles 80-81 LAR.

[4] COM №909 from 16 November 2022, available in Bulgarian at: https://bit.ly/3KuH0Ys.

[5] Foundation for Access to Rights, available in Bulgarian at: https://bit.ly/3kGROrJ.

[6] Supreme administrative court, 4th Section, case No.11310/2022, Ruling from 20 December 2022, available in Bulgarian at: https://bit.ly/3KHal1T.

[7] ukraine.gov.bg web portal, Entering Bulgaria, available at: https://bit.ly/3Zng6pZ.

[8] Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among Border Police, UNHCR and Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, signed on 14 April 2010.

[9] See, AIDA Fourth Update on Bulgaria, 30 September 2015, page 20-21.

[10] See, B. Access to the procedure and registration, 1. Access to the territory and push backs. 

[11] FRONTEX News release, EU’s external borders in 2022: Number of irregular border crossings highest since 2016, 13 January 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3YQKM2L.  

[12] MOI statistics, December 2022: 79 unaccompanied children referred to Agency for Social Assistance by the Border police, available in Bulgarian at: https://bit.ly/3YXaPFt.

[13] 20,407 asylum seekers who applied in 2022 and 11,185 asylum seekers pending determination from 2021, SAR, reg. №РД05-40 from 16 January 2023.

[14] The SAR leadership was replaced in 2022, starting with the appointment of the new chairperson Mariana Tosheva on 20 March 2022.

[15] Teleconference with SAR Deputy on Procedure from 20 January 2023.

[16] Article 75 (1) LAR, 6 months from the date of the registration.

[17] Source: SAR.

[18] Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, 2022 Annual RSD Monitoring Report, 1 March 2023, available at:       https://bit.ly/3kuCA9b.

[19] AIDA update on Bulgaria, 23 February 2022, Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure.

[20] Previous refugee recognition rates: 4% in 2021; 13% in 2020; 13% in 2019; 15% in 2018; 14% in 2017; 25% in 2016; 76% in 2015; 69% in 2014.

[21] Previous subsidiary protection rates: 57% in 2021; 47% in 2020; 15% in 2019; 20% in 2018; 18% in 2017; 19% in 2016; 14% in 2015; 25% in 2014.

[22] Previous rejection rates: 39% in 2021; 39% in 2020; 71% in 2019; 65% in 2018; 68% in 2017; 56% in 2016;    10% in 2015; 6% in 2014.

[23] 9,895 discontinued procedures out of all 10,414 Afghan applicants pending in 2022, of whom 7,164 applied in 2022 and 3,250 were pending from 2021.

[24] See, Table Statistics, page 7 of this report: 69 Afghan decisions on the merits.

[25] See, AIDA Country Updates on Bulgaria: Forth Update from October 2015, 2016 Update from February 2017, 2017 Update from February 2018, 2018 Update from January 2019, 2019 Update from February 2020, 202  Update from February 2021 and 2021 Update from February 2022.

[26] 110th Coordination meeting held on 10 January 2022.

[27] 118th Coordination meeting held on 22 December 2022.

[28] SAR, reg. No.РД05-72 from 26 February 2023.

[29] COM No.145 from 10 March 2022.

[30] SAR, reg. No.РД05-72 from 26 February 2023.

[31] 2021: 10,999 asylum seekers; 2022: 20,407 asylum seekers. 

[32] 9,895 discontinued Afghan procedures out of all 10,414 Afghan applicants  pending in 2022 (7,164 applicants in 2022 and 3,250 applicants pending from 2021 as of 31 December 2021).

[33] National Statistical Institute, available in Bulgarian at: https://bit.ly/3KMYHT5.

[34] SAR, reg. No.РД05-72 from 26 February 2023.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, reg.No.Б-67 from 4 August 2022.

[40] SAR, reg. No.РД05-72 from 26 February 2023.

[41] Article 29 (9) LAR.

[42] Article 29 (1) LAR.

[43] SAR, Order No 31-310, 31 March 2015, issued by the Chairperson Nikola Kazakov.

[44] Law on Asylum and Refugees (LAR), Article 29 (3).

[45] SAR, reg. No. №РД05-40 from 16 January 2023.

[46] Employment Agency, reg. No.РД08-13 from 6 January 2023.

[47] Ibid.

[48] 2021: 3,172 unaccompanied children  / 2022: 3,348 unaccompanied children.

[49] The SAR leadership was replaced in March-April 2022.

[50] 2021: 7 calendar/5 working days; 2020: 8 calendar/6 working days; 2019: 11 calendar/9 working days; 2018: 9 calendar/7 working days; 2017: 19 calendar/15 working days; 2016: 9 calendar/7 working days; 2015: 10 calendar/8 working days; 2014: 11 calendar/9 working days; 2013: 45 days/32 working days.

[51] BHC 2022 Annual RSD Monitoring report, 111.Registration time-limit, page 5: 13,192 individuals out of 15,130 detention applicants (2021: 86% or 7,382 individuals out of 8,528 detention applicants / 2020: 55% or 1,533 individuals out of 2,781 detention applicants), available at: https://bit.ly/3Y3WzJJ.

[52] 6 working or 8 calendar days as per Article 58(4) LAR in conjunction with Article 6(1) APD.

[53] See, AIDA updates on Bulgaria in 2019 to 2021.

[54] BHC 2022 Annual RSD Monitoring report, 1.1.2. Procedure at the police detention centers, page 6, available at: https://bit.ly/3Y3WzJJ.

[55] Article 45b LAR.

[56] State Gazette No.80 from 16 October 2015, enforced on 1 January 2016.

[57] A special compartment allocated in Busmantsi detention center’s premises.

[58] SAR, reg. No. №РД05-40 from 16 January 2023.

[59] 2022: 56 days; 2021: 86 days; 2020: 91 days; 2019: 252 days; 2018: 192 days, 2017: 202 days.

[60] Statistics provided by the Bulgarian Council for Refugees and Migrants on 16 January 2023.

[61] SAR, Rules and procedures on the accommodation of unaccompanied children granted international protection in foster families, social or integrated socio-medical care facilities for children of a residential type,  adopted in October 2022.

[62] Article 42(5) LAR, State Gazette No. 89 from 16 October 2020.

[63] Article 65 of Administrative Procedure Code.

[64] Article 2(2) LAR.

[65] COM №144 from 10 March 2022, available in Bulgarian at: https://bit.ly/3rVTT33.

[66] Article 41(1), item 4 LAR, see at: https://bit.ly/3ghv4Mo.

[67] 24 February 2023.

[68] Article 68(1), item 2 LAR.

[69] Ibid.

[70] COM №144 from 10 March 2022, available in Bulgarian at: https://bit.ly/3rVTT33.

[71] Article 39(1) LAR.

[72] Amended, State Gazette №32/2022 enforced on 26 April 2022.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation