In the News: Squalid camps and bleak prospects greet Syrians at EU's door
Over 11,100 refugees, most of them Syrians, have entered Bulgaria illegally this year, crossing the porous 274-kilometre (170-mile) border with Turkey.
That may be a drop in the ocean compared to the two million refugees sheltering in Syria's neighbouring countries, but they are overwhelming the European Union's poorest nation.
Bulgaria's three refugee facilities were quickly overfilled. Authorities hastily opened four more shelters in dilapidated former schools or deserted army camps, like the one in Harmanli, where 1,254 Syrian and Afghan refugees are registered.
On an AFP visit of the Harmanli camp, thick black smoke from improvised stoves filled the area, as children waded barefoot in freezing puddles and their mothers cooked on open fires outside rows of khaki tents and metal containers.
Coughing could be heard everywhere. Many complained about not being able to get simple medicine or proper treatment for chronic illnesses.
The camp's inhabitants are not allowed to leave except to buy food, which is not provided by the cash-strapped Bulgarian government. They are given no money either, forking out whatever they still have to pay for bread and potatoes, the cheapest foods available.
Over the past year, with the rebel insurgents in Syria, I have heard reports of many Christians having to leave Syria because of persecution. I have not been able to confirm if these refugees in Bulgaria are Christians but either way I am moved by their story.
1) There are many things to pray for concerning Bulgaria but let us pray for these refugees from Syria.
2) May the Christians among the refugees be visited with special grace as they endure these hard times. Let us pray that their distress would be changed to hope and their hope changed to physical relief.
3) Let us pray that the Bulgarian Christians would be moved by the needs of these refugees and take the opportunity to minister Jesus’ love with humanitarian aid.
4) Not only Bulgarian Christians, but let’s pray that Christians worldwide would get involved to help these displaced Syrians.
5) Recently the European Commission allocated EUR 5.6 million to Bulgaria to help with the refugee problem. Let us pray this money will be handled by honest people that are dedicated to truly helping the suffering in the camps. Let’s pray that there would be adequate rations of food and medicine.
6) As we have prayed for many Balkan countries, let us pray for unity and acceptance among ethnic groups in Bulgaria, let us pray for an end to hatred.
7) We want to pray for the Christians to set the example of acceptance. Let us pray for those Bulgarian churches that exclude Gypsies, Turks, etc. Lord, speak to them about how we are to be all things to all people.
1 Corinthians 9:19-22 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
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