More than 2,300 unaccompanied refugee children have passed through Bulgarian border from the beginning of the year. Establishing the exact number is very difficult. In most cases, once caught, children are offered to sign a declaration to be accommodated in centers. This action is on the edge of the law, because children should be directed to places with special provisions for minors, but such places are not available in Bulgaria.
Some children are waiting for smugglers to take them to Western Europe. The Ombudsman Maya Manolova said that determination of the origin of the children should be done at a maximum early stage, there must be a database of all unaccompanied children and they should be accomodated under appropriate conditions. It is important children to be informed about their rights and all risks of the illegal passing of the border, said Manolova.
Representation of unaccompanied minors is crucial, according to the Ombudsman. Under the law, the obligation now is over the mayors, and this is not a good practice. Maya Manolova proposed to the NGO representatives to undertake change of the existing legislation, which to allow identifying those children. Furthermore, there should be a clear criteria who could be their representative.
Additionally, refugee children in kindergartens and schools will undergo training in Bulgarian language, according to the draft of the new Ordinance on the conditions and procedures for admission and training of persons seeking international protection. Students will attend classes outside the school plan or during the summer holidays, depending on their needs.