The Bulgarian experience

The emigration flow following the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the democratic changes in 1989.

Following the demise of communism, the ensuing transition to a market based economy and the increasing possibilities to live and work abroad, a sizable portion of Bulgaria’s population has migrated for a certain period of time. One official estimation from 2011 indicates that approximately 2,5 million people reside abroad, with that number slightly shifting back and forth in the years to follow. At present, the Bulgarians abroad are the greatest investor in the national economy but various division lines between them and the Bulgarians residing within the national boundaries have been persistently instilled by government and media representatives.

Contemporary migration crisis:

In the past few years, Bulgaria has largely been a transition country for migrants and refugees fleeing conflict zones in the Middle East. In the time frame between 2013 and 2016, a total number of 58 034 people have sought asylum in Bulgaria, with only 10 817 of them being granted an actual refugee status. In 2015 alone, more than 21,000 migrants have been categorized by the government as “illegal” and detained by the police. Reported atrocities and poor conditions at the detention centers are as concerning as the rising levels of xenophobia in the Bulgarian society.