Afghan Migrant Crisis? Bulgaria Sends 350 Troops to Turkish Border as Illegal Crossings Triple

REZOVO, BULGARIA - SEPTEMBER 15: A Bulgarian Border Police officer guards the land border
Hristo Rusev/Getty Images

The government of Bulgaria has announced that it will be sending 350 troops to the border with Turkey, as the number of mostly Afghan migrants crossing illegally has tripled this year.

Bulgaria boosted the number of troops at the border on Monday, with  Defence Minister Georgi Panayotov stating that they would help support police already patrolling the land border the country shares with Turkey.

“From today, Monday, soldiers at the Bulgarian-Turkish border will support the border police. 350 people have been sent along with about 40 units of equipment,” Panayotov said according to a Kathimerini report.

Between January and September of this year, Bulgarian authorities claim to have arrested at least 6,500 migrants, most of them Afghan nationals, who crossed into the EU country illegally. The figure is three times the number recorded in 2020.

The surge of troops comes after Bulgaria had already committed between 400 and 750 troops to help guard the border with both Turkey and Greece in August of this year.

Neighbouring Greece has also bolstered forces at its border in recent weeks, adding 250 officers in early October to the 1,500-strong border force.

Bulgaria is unlikely to be the desired final destination country for migrants, many of which want to reach western European countries such as Germany and Britain.

However, according to the European Union-funded website InfoMigrants, Afghan nationals run the risk of being deported back to their home country from Bulgaria, as it is one of the few EU member-states not to have ended deportations to Afghanistan following the country’s fall to the Taliban.

Fears of an Afghan migrant crisis have been ongoing since the Taliban takeover, with one humanitarian worker suggesting that as many as three million Afghan nationals may attempt to reach Europe in the near future.

So far, no mass migration of Afghan nationals has taken place from Turkey into Greece or Bulgaria on the scale of the 2015 migrant crisis, but more and more illegal immigrants have crossed in the European Union from Belarus, which has been accused of helping to facilitate illegal migration as revenge for sanctions imposed by the European Union earlier this year.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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