EU border agency Frontex has acknowledged the reports, promising to investigate the situation with migrants in Bulgaria
Bulgarian border forces have detained illegal migrants caught at the county border in cage-like structures, several European media reported on Thursday. Footage circulated by journalists shows that officials of the EU border agency – also known as Warsaw-based Frontex – were aware of the situation but did not intervene.
The news was reported by Le Monde, along with Lighthouse Reports, Monitor, Der Spiegel and several other news outlets. Journalists attempted to film migrants being held in a makeshift cage made of bars five times between October 15 and November 25. The makeshift prison is located in the city of Sredets, to the east. south of Bulgaria, near the country’s border with Türkiye, on the grounds of a local police complex. Footage shows that on each such occasion, about a dozen people are locked in cages filled with garbage and construction debris.
Frontex agents appeared to be aware of the migrants’ condition, as a car bearing agency markings was discovered at the scene. According to an internal Frontex document obtained by journalists, ten of its agents have been permanently deployed in Sredets since late March 2022. Le Monde said it has been in contact with the agency, but The agency insists its activities are limited to border surveillance activities and does not elaborate. about its presence in the Sredets.
Journalists also individually interviewed four Syrian and Afghan nationals in Türkiye, all of whom said they had been detained for hours and subjected to various abuses.
Frontex has acknowledged the allegations and promised to investigate them.
“Frontex takes any reports of alleged violations of fundamental rights seriously,” the agency told AFP. “The information you have shared with us has been forwarded to the Frontex Office of Fundamental Rights, which will review the allegations.”
United Nations refugee agency UNHCR told AFP it was not aware of the media report but said “deeply concerned about these allegations,” call “The countries concerned must investigate all claims of violations and abuses.”
“UNHCR stands ready to assist countries and the European Commission in establishing independent monitoring mechanisms to monitor and investigate such incidents,” the United Nations watchdog added.
Frontex has reported an increase in irregular entries to the block this year, registering around 281,000 in October. This represents a 77% increase over the same period last year. Almost half of all illegal migrants have entered the EU via the so-called Western Balkan route, with arrival numbers now at their highest levels since the 2015 refugee crisis.