Border policemen stand guard next to a barbed wire wall on the Bulgarian border with Turkey, near the village of Golyam Dervent on July 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF
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Overwhelmed by an influx of mostly Syrian immigrants, Bulgaria has taken steps to secure its EU border – including building a barbed-wire fence – but now faces criticism from rights groups.Covering the least visible section of Bulgaria's 275-km border with Turkey, it aims to stem a flow of refugees that saw more than 11,000 people enter the country illegally last year – 10 times the annual figure before the Syrian conflict.Integration remains a major issue, Cheshirkov acknowledged, and the UNHCR and other international human rights groups have repeatedly criticized Bulgaria for pouring 9.0 million leva (4.6 million euros, $6.3 million) into building its border fence instead of spending the money on integration.
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