BEIRUT

Middle East

Syrian refugees in Bulgaria receive Polish aid

File - Syrian refugees look through a window inside a refugee centre as they wait for a distribution of humanitarian aid by volunteers of the Bulgarian Red Cross in Sofia December 17, 2013. (REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov)

SOFIA: Humanitarian groups are distributing urgent aid to Syrian asylum seekers packed in refugee shelters in southern Bulgaria.

Some 22 tons of food and clothing arrived from Poland on Monday at the biggest refugee camp in the city of Harmanli.

The aid comes in the wake of U.N. criticism of asylum seekers' access to food and health care in Bulgaria, and registration delays.

Bulgaria, a nation of 7.3 million that is the European Union's poorest member, has been caught unprepared by a surge of refugees, which is straining its asylum system.

Some 11,600 refugees, 60 percent of them from war-torn Syria, are in crammed settlements in Bulgaria. Many had sought to get to richer, Western nations, but under EU rules they were returned to the first EU country they entered.

 

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