More than two and a half million Syrians have fled the country as refugees, settling in neighboring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. As many as 6,000 have fled as far as Bulgaria, one of the poorest countries of the 28-member European Union and a gateway to Europe. There, say rights and humanitarian groups, they must cope with substandard living conditions and a rising xenophobia that is being fueled by the careless statements of nationalist politicians and right-wing media outlets.
A poll conducted in early December 2013 showed that 62.2% of Bulgarians do not want any more refugees coming to the country. 15% agree Bulgaria should continue to accept refugees, and 22.7% have no opinion.
A poll taken in late September 2013 showed that 83% of Bulgarians see Syrian refugees as a threat to national security.