Mr. Ola Henrikson's Visit to Bulgaria: Advancing IOM's Commitment

The IOM Bulgaria team had the distinct privilege of extending a warm welcome to Mr. Ola Henrikson, the Regional Director of IOM's Regional Office for the EEA, the EU, and NATO. Mr. Henrikson's two-day work visit was marked by an intensive agenda, featuring meetings with various state institutions in Bulgaria, accompanied by Mr. Radoslav Stamenkov, the Head of IOM's Mission in Bulgaria.

Mr Ola Henrikson, Mr Radoslav Stamenkov and Mr. Nikolay Nikolov

The inaugural day of Mr. Henrikson's visit commenced with a meeting with Mr. Nikolay Nikolov, the Director of the Migration Directorate at the Ministry of Interior. Joined by Mr. Radoslav Stamenkov, Mr. Henrikson engaged in discussions concerning the current situation in Bulgaria, with a particular focus on the pivotal role that IOM plays in addressing the associated challenges.

Mr Radoslav Kulekov presenting a gift to Mr Ola Henrikson in the company of Mr Radoslav Stamenkov

Subsequently, Mr. Henrikson and Mr. Stamenkov were graciously received at the Directorate-General for Border Police, where they had the opportunity to meet with Deputy Director Mr. Radoslav Kulekov. During this encounter, Mr. Kulekov provided valuable insights into the work of the Border Police at the southern border and underscored the significance of the good collaboration between Border Police and IOM.

Ministry of Interior hall

Later in the day, IOM representatives convened with Mr. Kalin Stoyanov, the Minister of Interior Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria. The meeting proved to be mutually beneficial, with Mr. Stoyanov once again underscoring IOM's pivotal role in Bulgaria's migration landscape. Mr. Ola Henrikson, in his remarks, highlighted the growing importance of coherent policies to address emerging challenges such as climate-induced migration.

Meeting in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The day's rigorous agenda continued with a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where Mr. Henrikson and Mr. Stamenkov had a constructive exchange with Deputy Minister Ms. Irena Dimitrova. This encounter exemplified the spirit of collaboration and partnership that underpins IOM's mission, reaffirming our commitment to working hand in hand with government officials to address complex migration challenges

IOM team with Mr. Ola Henrikson

The day concluded with a staff meeting at IOM Bulgaria's main office in Sofia, where Mr. Henrikson met with members of IOM's dedicated team. During this interaction, they discussed their ongoing work, encountered challenges, and contemplated future initiatives. 

Meeting with Mr. Nikolay Denkov

The second day of this significant visit commenced with a meeting between Mr. Ola Henrikson and Mr. Nikolay Denkov, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, hosted at the Council of Ministers. This historic meeting marked the first official engagement between a Prime Minister of Bulgaria and representatives of IOM. The exchange unfolded in an atmosphere of warmth and camaraderie.

Mr Ola Henrikson and Mr Radoslav Stamenkov at a meeting with Mr. Nikolay Denkov

During this pivotal meeting, Mr. Ola Henrikson eloquently presented the future prospects and crucial facets of migration management in Europe. He emphasised the paramount importance of robust multinational and multi-institutional cooperation to confront the swiftly changing challenges of our world. In response, Prime Minister Denkov conveyed his deep appreciation for IOM's unwavering support and outstanding work within Bulgaria's borders. He expressed his readiness to maintain and expand this fruitful cooperation into the future.

meeting with Ms Mariana Toshiba

Subsequently, Mr. Henrikson engaged in a productive session with Ms. Mariana Tosheva, the Chairperson of the State Agency for Refugees (SAR). During this meeting, Mr. Radoslav Stamenkov and Ms. Mariana Tosheva apprised Mr. Ola Henrikson of the close-knit collaboration between IOM and SAR in their work with migrants. Ms. Tosheva reiterated the invaluable role that IOM plays in Bulgaria, particularly highlighting the organisation's capacity-building initiatives and its support for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

Joint visit to IOM's Safety Zones

Following this meeting, Mr. Ola Henrikson had the chance of visiting IOM's Safety Zones within the Reception and Registration Center in Sofia - Voenna Rampa. Accompanied by Mr. Radoslav Stamenkov and Ms. Mariana Tosheva, Mr. Henrikson gained valuable insights into the current migration trends and challenges in Bulgaria. During his tour of the Safety Zone, he engaged with IOM's dedicated social workers, who presented the specifics of their work, the challenges they encounter, and their unwavering commitment to supporting unaccompanied children seeking international protection within Bulgaria's borders. This visit not only underscored the critical nature of IOM's mission but also deepened the understanding of the complexities surrounding migration in Bulgaria.

SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals