After a massive riot which saw hundreds of Afghans fight with police and destroy parts of Bulgaria’s largest asylum camp, authorities have chosen to deport 250 migrants who took part.
In the aftermath of a massive riot that engulfed Harmanli for almost an entire day, authorities have announced the plans to deport 250 Afghans who contributed to the disturbance. The government said on Monday that 50 of the Afghan nationals had already agreed to leave voluntarily with a further 200 being processed for deportation, reports Austria’s largest paper Kronen Zeitung.
Bulgarian authorities report that many of the men who took part in the riot were from Afghanistan and that the leader who masterminded the violence was an Afghan previously deported from Germany. Police employed water cannons and around 400 migrants in total were arrested.
Of the 400 arrested 18 migrants are to be formally charged with vandalism of state property and hooliganism. A further 1,000 migrants who refused to comply with orders given by the police to stop have been redistributed to other camps along the Bulgarian-Turkish border.
All of the established migrant camps in Bulgaria, the poorest member of the European Union (EU), are full despite additional migrants still crossing the border from Turkey. The riot was sparked after right-wing protesters complained that the migrants were causing harm in local communities and spreading disease.
Authorities admitted that skin diseases, viruses, and smallpox were present in over a hundred migrants at the camp and decided to put the entire population of 3,000 under lock down. The mandatory quarantine led to anger from the migrants who then began to riot and fight with police, throwing stones and injuring several officers.
Bulgaria has only recently had a problem with a growing number of migrants due to the fact that it has become, like Greece, the first and often last stop for migrants entering the EU. The political bloc had hoped to redistribute migrants from Bulgaria, Greece, and Italy but in the aftermath of the Hungarian migrant redistribution referendum plans have largely stalled.
While there are still migrants crossing the border from Turkey, much of the flow of migrants has been slowed by the EU migrant deal with Turkey. As one of the stipulations for the deal, visa-free travel for Turkish citizens, seems increasingly unlikely to happen Turkey has threatened to release a new flood of up to 3,000 migrants a day into Europe – a move that could inflame tensions even further.