In Bulgaria, every person under 18 is a child. Children are entitled to a special legal protection.
If you are under 18, all government offices in Bulgaria have to take your special circumstances into consideration and look out for your best interest. Do not hesitate to ask for special attention if you need something.
There are cultural orientation workshops and free Bulgarian language courses currently offered in most State Agency for Refugees's reception center. These courses teach you how to easily get around town and help you adapt to life in Bulgaria faster than you would expect. For more information, check and see available services.
Young people travelling alone are particularly vulnerable. Here are some tips on how to stay safe and protect yourself from abusive people:
- Try not to travel or walk by yourself. It is safer to be in a group with other people.
- Avoid sleeping out in the open at night as this can be particularly dangerous.
- Always ask people who approach you to identify themselves. Do not accept any kind of help or services, such as accommodation, money, transportation, or job from a person who refuses to show their ID card and is not wearing a uniform or a vest of an aid organization. They may be trying to trick you and take advantage of you.
- Do not carry a lot of cash.
- Avoid staying out late and respect the rules and curfew of the SAR reception centers.
- Carry the green registration card issued by SAR with you at all times.
- If someone is bullying you, threatening you, or physically or verbally abusing you, immediately report it to the authorities or to an aid organization. They are there to support you.
Contacts and keeping in touch
- If you are travelling without your family but are in contact with them, keep them informed of your location.
- Keep a list of important phone numbers and emergency contact details with you at all times. Memorize the most important numbers (such as your parents’ number, international emergency number 112). Find more:
- Make sure you know the name and phone number of the municipality representative/guardian that has been appointed to you. Do not hesitate to contact them if you experience problems or you need any other kind of support.
- Even if you are under 18, if you enter Bulgaria alone, you still have the right to apply for international protection.
- Know your rights as an underage asylum seeker as well as the rules you must follow in Bulgaria. If you aren’t sure what your rights are, or if you have any other questions, contact a social worker at the camp, your legal representative/guardian, or your lawyer.
- If the police try to detain you, ask to speak with a lawyer, a social worker, or a person working for an aid organization. If possible, ask them to inform your family.
- Do not try to leave the territory of Bulgaria in an illegal way while the procedure regarding your asylum application is still ongoing. It is not in your interest to do so. Such an attempt could threaten your life and security and would be considered a crime. It may also lead SAR to refuse to grant you refugee status.
Your asylum interview
- If you are travelling alone, a social worker, a municipality representative and a lawyer should be present during your official asylum interview at SAR. You should also be provided with a translator.
- If you do not understand something that the interviewer, SAR official, social worker, your representative or your lawyer are explaining to you, do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for further clarifications. It is their job to make sure you understand the information.
- Make sure you eat regularly enough and always carry water with you in order to stay hydrated.
- If you are feeling sick or have any other health issues, quickly seek medical assistance. You are entitled to receive free medical care which should be available in the SAR reception center you are accommodated in. If you cannot find the doctor’s cabinet, immediately contact the social worker in the center.