Skip to main content
Syrian refugee explo Bulgaria, November 2013
War in Gaza:: find out how we're responding
Learn more
In response to the escalating refugee arrivals in Harmanli, our teams have initiated a comprehensive healthcare response in Bulgaria.

Operating a clinic within the Harmanli Reception Centre, our team provides general healthcare as well as sexual and reproductive health, and support for non-communicable diseases.  

We remain committed to delivering essential healthcare services and addressing the pressing medical needs of refugees in Harmanli, to ensure their well-being.

MSF first worked in Bulgaria in 1981. In 1997 we began providing medical equipment and medication to hospitals and pharmacies in the country.

In 2000, we opened a treatment centre for sexually transmitted infections in the capital, Sofia, where we educated people on safe sex practices and infection prevention, and did voluntary testing and counselling for HIV. In 2013 our teams also worked to improve conditions for Syrian refugees arriving in the country. 

Our activities in 2023 in Bulgaria

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2023.

MSF in Bulgaria in 2023 In Bulgaria, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) assists migrants, refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Harmanli, 50 kilometres from the Turkish–Greek border, and home to the country’s largest open reception centre.
Bulgaria IAR map 2023

For people on the move, travelling to Bulgaria through Türkiye on foot in winter is particularly gruelling. The harsh weather conditions and the lack of access to shelter, food and sanitation have a negative impact on their physical and mental health. Upon arrival in Harmanli, existing health problems are compounded by the dire living conditions and poor hygiene in the reception centre.

MSF started to deliver medical care in Harmanli reception centre in July 2023. Since then, our teams have provided general and sexual and reproductive healthcare, as well as treatment for patients with chronic diseases, and implemented infection prevention and control measures to curb the spread of infections in the centre. Our staff also coordinate with the health authorities to refer patients requiring specialist care to hospitals.

Bulgaria has a shortage of medical professionals, which reduces the authorities’ ability to mount an effective medical response in Harmanli. People on the move are entitled to free specialised healthcare with a referral from a registered general practitioner (GP), but the irregular availability of GPs in the centre often makes it difficult to obtain a consultation and a referral if needed.

There is also a need in Harmanli for mental health support, socio-legal services, and interpreters to help refugees and asylum seekers deal with administrative processes, registration and medical consultations. Protection is another key issue in the centre, as safe zones for unaccompanied minors are still under development.

Many people in Harmanli had left countries caught up in conflict or unrest, such as Syria and Afghanistan, and made their way to Türkiye in search of safety and protection. However, following the devastating earthquakes that hit the south of Türkiye in February, many felt they had no option but to continue their journeys.

in 2023
Filter Tips
  • Try a different country, year, format, or topic.
  • Clear one or more filters