The Bulgarian police has arrested six people after 18 Afghans were found dead in a truck parked on a dirt track outside Bulgarian capital Sofia on Friday.
The truck was transporting 52 people hidden under wooden planks, of whom 18 died of suffocation. The police stumbled upon the dead people after villagers of Lokorsko, which lies 20-km northeast of capital Sofia called the police.
The 34 rescued people were taken to a hospital where it was found that they had died of asphyxia and lack of oxygen. The migrants were found severely dehydrated, had not eaten for days and had no water.
#BREAKING: #BNNBulgaria Reports.
According to the #Bulgarian Interior Ministry, at least 18 people were discovered dead in an abandoned truck in a village near #Sofia on Friday.#Bulgaria #Crime
— Gurbaksh Singh Chahal (@gchahal) February 18, 2023
In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan said: “IEA-MoFA expresses its condolences to the families of the victims of this tragic incident & again urges Afghans not to put their lives in danger through illegal migration”. The statement further added: “We also call on all international organisations & the host country, in particular, to apprehend the human traffickers & bring them to justice for continuously putting the lives of people in danger”.
/SOFIA/L(42.7N,23.8E) , Feb 18 ( Reuters ) – Bulgarian prosecutors have charged 6 people with human trafficking after 18 Afghan migrants were found dead inside a truck dumped on an dirt road near the capital /Sofia/L(42.7N,23.8E) on Friday .
— LSTA-Linfer-en (@LSTA_Linfer_en) February 19, 2023
The Afghans are believed to come from Turkey and were headed to western Europe. This is being labelled as one of the deadliest incidents of human trafficking in Bulgaria. Their hiding place in the truck had been covered under aluminium foil to fool thermal cameras, reports The Guardian.
The migrants, between the ages 13-35 had paid 7,000 euros each to the smugglers, who now face upto 15 years in prison if convicted of “involuntary manslaughter, participating in organised crime and people-smuggling”, said The Guardian.
European Union (EU) member Bulgaria is one of its poorest member states with a nearly 260-km border with turkey. It also faces increasing trafficking attempts as the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan worsens under the Taliban regime. The country has increased vigilance along its border with Turkey and has erected a wire fence as well.
According to the UN, Afghans make for one of the largest refugee populations in the world. Of the 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees, most are concentrated in Pakistan and Iran, where the two nations have been trying to send them back to their troubled country.
Also read: Facing conflict and Covid, Afghan refugees flee to neighbouring countries, some falling in the trap of terror groups