Syrian refugees in Bulgaria: What they thought would be a transit ended up being a long nightmare. Photo by Rime El Jadidi
Syrian refugees in Bulgaria: What they thought would be a transit ended up being a long nightmare. Photo by Rime El Jadidi

On the fourth anniversary of the Syrian civil war, a moving documentary - “The Dublin Pitfall” - puts the focus back on the consequences of the Dublin Regulation on Syrian refugees in Europe.



By Milena Hristova                                 March 19, 2015


 

Syria marks its fourth anniversary of death, destruction and horror this week with 4 million of its population living as refugees.

 

Assad regime’s unchecked slaughter continues and will continue. That it has faded from public attention is an atrocity in itself.


Rime El Jadidi, a journalist based in Casablanca, Morocco, seeks to bring the plight of Syrian refugees back to the public attention with a moving documentary - “The Dublin Pitfall”.

 

Starting March 20, the film narrates the stories of Gohderz, Yasmin, Mohamed, Salah and Jenny, who fled to Europe for their lives from the civil war in Syria only to discover they are to live in even harsher conditions in Europe. Added to that are the limitations imposed on them by European regulations, known as the Dublin Regulation.

After a couple of years in Turkey, where they were considered as guests with no access to education, health care or the job market, many heard that Sweden – a member of the European Union- was giving permanent residency to Syrians… but only if they reach the Swedish soil.

With no legal option to reach Sweden, thousands of Syrians crossed the Turkish-Bulgarian border between the summer and winter of 2013, only to learn later that the first European country they are registered in is, by European law, the only one where they can apply for and be granted asylum. Bulgaria, on the other side, is one of Europe’s poorest countries and is not prepared to receive such number of refugees.

In October 2013 only, more than 3600 refugees (the majority of which is Syrian) reached Bulgaria through its Turkish border. That’s a hundred times more than what Bulgaria received during the same month in the previous year. Due to this unexpected flow of refugees, Bulgaria had no choice but to accommodate refugees in a closed ad-hoc camp in Harmanli, a Bulgarian border town. What they thought would be a transit ended up being a long nightmare for Syrians.

Milena Hristova assisted the film's crew as fixer in Bulgaria.