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28 May 2020 – Bulgaria

The Gate and Walls Surrounding the Busmantsi Detention Centre, (
The Gate and Walls Surrounding the Busmantsi Detention Centre, ("Sofia Busmantsi Detention Centre (Special Home for Temporary Accomodation of Foreigners),"

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, a non-governmental actor in Bulgaria reported that while the country has not declared a moratorium on new detention orders officials have worked to limit detainee populations in its detention centres. The source, who asked to remain anonymous but whose identity was verified by the GDP, said that Bulgaria’s two detention centres—Busmantsi and Lyubimets—have been operating at no more than 15 percent occupancy rate to allow for social distancing. However, there has been no routine testing of detainees.

Regarding asylum procedures, the source reported that all activities related to the asylum procedure have been suspended “apart from registration of new applicants. 14 days quarantine was introduced for newly-accommodated persons in open centres and detention centres.” The source added: “Persons who apply for asylum while in immigration detention are released to open centres managed by the State Agency for Refugees (SAR) which implemented strict measures including limiting the possibility to leave the centres to essential trips – for work, shopping, medical reasons.” However, those expressing intention to apply for asylum while detained must enter 14-day quarantine before submitting their asylum application. Asylum applicants who are determined to be children are released to SAR and undergo 14-day quarantine.

The source reported that while most removals have been suspended, a “few returns have taken place, primarily to neighbouring countries and concerning nationals of these countries.”

The source added: “While a general prohibition of entry of third country nationals to Bulgaria was introduced, persons travelling for humanitarian reasons were explicitly exempted from it. … Asylum-seekers in open centres were subject to restrictions on leaving the centres – they were allowed to leave for essential reasons only. The restriction ended once the state declared the end of the emergency measures (13 May).”