Bulgaria Sends Troops To Border As EU Braces For Afghan Migrant Flows

Barbed wire lines the Kapitan Andreevo border crossing point between Bulgaria and Turkey. (file photo)

Bulgaria announced on August 26 that it will bolster its border with Greece and Turkey with between 400 and 700 soldiers amid growing concern in Europe over an influx of migrants from Afghanistan.

The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan has stoked fears of a repeat of Europe's 2015 migration crisis, when more than 1 million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East arrived in the bloc. Many migrants crossed from Turkey and took the so-called Balkan route to wealthier EU countries.

"The pressure on the Bulgarian border is increasing, which requires the government to act, and it is doing just that," Defense Minister Georgi Panayotov said.

The soldiers would be available to help police and gendarmes with "constructing barriers and surveillance,” he added.

The Interior Ministry has said there is “increased migratory pressure” in recent weeks on the border with Turkey and Greece.

In a sign of Europe's concerns about Afghan migrants, the Slovenian presidency of the EU announced that an emergency meeting of the bloc’s interior ministers will be held Brussels on August 31.

Greece and non-EU member Turkey are also concerned about a new migration wave to Europe and have begun to coordinate a response.

Turkey hosts nearly 4 million Syrian refugees and 300,000 Afghans, in addition to migrants and refugees from other parts of the world.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on August 19 that Turkey has no responsibility to be "Europe's refugee warehouse."

Greece became a front-line state during the European migration crisis, although arrivals from Turkey have dropped since 2016 when the EU reached a deal with Ankara to stem the flow in exchange for billions of dollars of financial support.

Turkey and Greece have recently hardened their borders due to concern about Afghan migrants.

With reporting by AFP