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Bulgaria May Ask for EU Aid to Handle Rise in Syrian Refugees

Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Bulgaria may ask the European Union and Red Cross for aid in handling an increase in Syrian refugees as President Barack Obama seeks congressional approval for a strike on the Middle-East country.

Bulgaria, which shares a border with Turkey, may have to provide shelter for as many as 10,000 Syrians by year end, Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said in an e-mailed statement in the capital Sofia today.

Bulgarian refugee centers are full and the government is looking for additional locations to accommodate a rise in people illegally crossing the border with Turkey, he said.

The UN estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since the push to drive President Bashar al-Assad from power 2 1/2 years ago deteriorated into civil war. The number of Syrians fleeing to adjacent countries including Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan has surged and spread to Bulgaria, Serbia and other countries.

“Should the crisis escalate and there is a tide of refugees we can expect between 6,000 and 10,000 people by the end of the year,” Yovchev said in the statement. “This exceeds our potential.”

About 3,000 illegal migrants were caught crossing the border in the first eight months of the year, of which about 1,600 were Syrians, according to the Interior Ministry. That compares with about 2,000 migrants detained last year.

Serbian authorities detained 432 Syrians out of 2,232 people who crossed the country’s borders illegally in the first seven months, up from 287 Syrians in 2012, the Interior Ministry in Belgrade said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Konstantinova in Sofia at ekonstantino@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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