The International Organization for the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (DRI) has published a report entitled “Road to No Exit for Children: Bulgarian Group Homes”. It documents conditions and practices that are inhumane, degrading, and risky for children accommodated in Bulgarian group homes. The main finding of the study is that reforms in Bulgaria, supported by EU funds and other international sources “are replacing the system of large, outdated and falling apart orphanages with new, smaller buildings where services continue to function the old way as traditional institutions.”

“In Bulgaria, there are so-called small family-type accommodation centers. They are neither small nor anything close to a “family’s environment,” said DRI Executive Director Eric Rosenthal. “The violence and abuse that our team has encountered in Bulgarian group homes is as serious as similar inhumane acts in orphanages documented in other countries around the world,” Rosenthal added. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – ratified by both Bulgaria and the EU – requires governments to guarantee children to grow up in a family environment of their own biological family or in a foster home, but not in a group home.

“Large or small group homes are particularly dangerous for children whose full-fledged family’s environment has no substitute,” a document from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities says.

The photos and videos shown by the authors of the report are shocking. You can watch the video in Bulgarian here.