site.btaOver 3,400 Unaccompanied Children Sought Protection in Bulgaria in 2023
Over 3,400 unaccompanied children have sought protection in Bulgaria since the beginning of 2023, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHK) said on Tuesday.
Under Bulgarian legislation unaccompanied minors are considered all children under 18 who have entered the country without a parent or a custodian. In the last five years, more than 11,000 unaccompanied children have sought protection in Bulgaria. BHK together with UNICEF Bulgaria have helped more than 5,600 of them to be promptly identified and released from migrant centres, receive legal information and aid and support for reuniting with their families.
In Bulgaria unaccompanied minors are usually placed in safety zones within two of the migrant centres of the State Agency for Refugees in Sofia. Additional care and support are provided in these zones taking into consideration the vulnerable state of unaccompanied refugee children. Currently with the support of UNICEF a third safety zone for unaccompanied children is being set up in the migrant centre in Harmanli, SouthernBulgaria.
However, in the past years the number of unaccompanied children has increased and the places at these centres are not sufficient. There are single cases of unaccompanied children who have been placed in childcare facilities in Bulgaria and usually these are very young children who need intense care.