World Bulletin / News Desk
Refugees passing through Bulgaria on their way to western Europe are subject to violence, threats and even police dog attacks, according to a damning new report released by anti-poverty agency Oxfam Friday.
The report, which was based on interviews with over 100 refugees arriving in Serbia from Bulgaria, said they suffered "extortion, robbing, physical violence, use of weapons, threats of deportation, and police dog attacks."
Most said they were abused by police guarding the country's southeastern border with Turkey but some also said they were abused by authorities in Bulgaria's asylum shelters.
"The dramatic and shocking ill-treatment of people fleeing conflict and poverty is totally unacceptable, particularly in an EU member state," said Nikolina Milic of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, which conducted the survey on behalf of Oxfam.
"We are calling for an independent investigation into the incidents in Bulgaria, and we call on the Bulgarian government to condemn these human rights abuses in the strongest terms possible," she added.
The route through Bulgaria allows refugees to bypass a dangerous sea crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands.
But the poorest country in the European Union has installed a 30-kilometre (20-mile) razor-wire fence and deployed over 1,000 police at the 260-kilometre border, preventing refugees from crossing.
Last month, a 19-year-old Afghan refugee was shot and killed by police near the southern town of Sredets after entering illegally from Turkey.
The interior ministry said that the case was an accident caused by a ricochet from a police warning shot.
Human Rights Watch had already criticised Bulgaria for allegedly turning back refugees at the Turkish border with force, something which the authorities denied.
Asked about the new accusations, an interior ministry spokeswoman told AFP: "We have no comment for the time being."
"We have not had any signals of abuse in the refugee centres," refugee agency spokeswoman Avgustina Videva added.Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Kasım 2015, 13:33