Unaccompanied children

Фотография: Ивелина Берова

Under Bulgarian, unaccompanied is a minor or a juvenile alien who is on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria and is not accompanied by his/her parent or other adult person who is responsible for him/her by law or custom (Asylum and Refugees Act).

The Asylum and Refugees Act does not provide for a special procedure for registering an unaccompanied child seeking protection. When the child is registered, an interpreter and a social worker from a center shall be present at the State Agency for Refugees (SAR) and the registering employee records the age data reported by the child. In rare cases, a medical assessment is made to determine the age.

According to the Asylum and Refugees Act, unaccompanied minor or juvenile aliens are accommodated, up to turning full age, in:

  • family of relatives or close relatives, foster family, social service (resident type) or in a specialized institution under the terms and conditions of the Child Protection Act;
  • other accommodation facilities with special conditions for minors and juveniles.

When determining the place of accommodation of an unaccompanied minor or juvenile, his or her opinion shall be taken into account. As far as possible, siblings shall be accommodated together, taking into account the best interests of the child.

Usually, unaccompanied minors or juveniles are accommodated in some of the SAR centers that meet the requirements of the law and are described as “other places of accommodation with special conditions for minors”.

The representative of a minor or juvenile alien seeking or receiving international protection has the following powers in the proceedings under this Act which are in force until the child or young person reaches full age:

  • to take care of his/her legal interests in the procedures for granting international protection until their termination by an enforced decision;
  • to represent him/her to all administrative bodies, including social, health, education and other institutions in the Republic of Bulgaria, in order to protect the best interests of the child;
  • to perform the role of legal representative in all proceedings before the administrative authorities;
  • to take action to provide legal assistance.