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Migration and asylum

Bulgaria's participation in the efforts of the international community to find long-term and lasting solutions to the migration and refugee crisis is a priority for Bulgaria. These can only be achieved through joint efforts and international cooperation in a spirit of understanding and constructive dialogue with all stakeholders and solidarity within the international community. These solutions should be tailored to the national context, conducted in full respect of international human rights law and international refugee law, and guided by basic humanitarian principles.

Bulgaria pays serious attention to the long-term aspects of the problem, including the integration processes of persons granted asylum or international protection. To this end, a National Strategy on Migration, Asylum and Integration (2015-2020) was adopted in June 2015.

In order to implement its priorities in the framework of multilateral cooperation on migration and refugees, Bulgaria cooperates with a number of international bodies/organisations in this field, among which the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration are the leading ones.

  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established in 1950 as a United Nations agency to direct and coordinate international protection and social assistance activities for refugees. UNHCR aims to protect the rights and lives, ensure that refugees are able to exercise their right to asylum and assist them in finding solutions to return to their own country or settle in another. UNHCR has twice been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 and 1981. It has about 8,000 local and international staff in more than 125 countries.

UNHCR's priority areas of work for Bulgaria are finding practical mechanisms to share international responsibility and burden-sharing for the reception and resettlement of refugees; engaging the whole of society on refugee issues; creating conditions for repatriation, reintegration by addressing the root causes of large-scale refugee flows. At the national level, in implementation of Bulgaria's Cooperation Agreement with the Organisation, special attention is paid to improving procedures for enhancing administrative capacity and monitoring the process of granting protection under the Asylum and Refugee Act (2002), ensuring access to the territory of Bulgaria, as well as on the quality of procedures for determining refugee status and protection against expulsion/return of the asylum seeker to a country that is not safe for him/her. UNHCR highly appreciates its cooperation with the Bulgarian authorities and in particular with the State Agency for Refugees (SAR) - in 2017, the UNHCR Regional Representative presented the Chairperson of SAR with a plaque for excellent cooperation and fruitful partnership.

  • International Organization for Migration (IOM)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) was founded in 1951 and has been a leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration for over 65 years. Since 2016, IOM has been incorporated into the UN system as a "related organization" and currently has 169 member states. IOM's work is dedicated to promoting the orderly and humane management of migration, international cooperation on migration issues, and providing humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced persons. It assists in finding practical solutions to migration problems, including voluntary return.

Bulgaria gives priority to IOM activities and programmes aimed at finding durable solutions to contemporary migration challenges by striking an optimal balance between respecting the principles of free movement of people, controlling irregular migration and protecting migrants' rights. Bulgaria's cooperation with IOM at national level is based on an agreement concluded in 2003 and includes three main areas: Reintegration of victims of trafficking in human beings as well as returned Bulgarian migrants; Voluntary return and support for reintegration of migrants in their home countries; Management of labour migration - development of forms of employment, short-term employment. The increased migration pressure in 2013 towards the territory of Bulgaria led to increased cooperation with IOM, which provided significant expert and technical support to our country.

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