In 2019 and 2020, IOM worked towards improving the state of support to migrant unaccompanied minors by establishing two safety zones in the Voenna Rampa and the Ovcha Kupel reception centers in Sofia. Both safety zones provide a safe environment for minors where they receive care adapted to their age, sex, religion and cultural background from trained professionals, including social workers, psychologists, legal experts, and interpreters.
The main objective of the project is to ensure continued functioning of both safety zones in the Ovcha Kupel and the Voenna Rampa reception centers in Sofia, and to contribute to improving the mechanism for providing comprehensive support to unaccompanied minors seeking international protection, including to providing a safe environment for accommodation as well as social, psychological, and legal support, cultural mediation, interpretation, and access to basic services for unaccompanied minors seeking protection in Bulgaria.
Achieving the above objective will increase the capacity of national authorities in the fields of asylum and migration, with special emphasis on their activities in support of unaccompanied minors, and will generally contribute to attaining the objective of the Home Affairs Programme of the NFM 2014- 2020 to increase the capacity of state institutions in the field of asylum and migration.
The project outcomes will support the further increasing of the capacity of competent authorities and NGOs in Bulgaria, which is essential for the proper functioning of the migration and asylum system in Bulgaria. The project outcomes will also include measures relating to accommodation, provision of safe environment and social support as well as access to basic services, including social and psychological assistance in accordance with the needs of unaccompanied minors seeking international protection and in accordance with the standards in the field and on the basis of an assessment of the best interest of the child for hundreds of unaccompanied minors, accommodated in both safety zones in the Ovcha Kupel and the Voenna Rampa reception centers in Sofia.
To ensure continued functioning of both safety zones, IOM will perform the following activities:
Support to unaccompanied minors:
· Providing uninterrupted social support;
· Ensuring 24/7 security guards on site;
· Providing interpretation and cultural mediation services;
· Providing social, legal, and psychological support; access to general practitioner/medical assistance; covering medical interventions and purchasing medicines, as needed;
· Organizing information sessions, including on the support provided by IOM; the rights and obligations during the proceedings for international protection; the safety zone house rules; proceedings under the Dublin Regulation; protection measures against COVID-19, etc.
· Providing support to minors who attend school;
· Distribution of non-food items – clothing, hygiene supplies and other items, if necessary.
· Organizing cultural, art and sports activities, excursions to cultural, historical, and natural landmarks.
Maintenance of safety zone facilities:
· Minor repairs and maintenance activities;
· Purchase/replacement of materials, furniture, and equipment;
Coordination with authorities:
· Coordination meetings with the State Agency for Refugees (SAR);
· Coordinating with and complementing other partners, including in relation to proceedings under the Dublin Regulation;
· Information materials will be produced and disseminated through IOM's partner networks and online.