Page 162 - MIGRATION

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MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
new town regulation plan…
(Transcript N16 from Svilengrad Municipal council meeting,
dated 12.06.1920; RSA-Haskovo, 53К, оp. 1, а.е. 8).
And further:
The municipal council, upon hearing the report, considers that in reality the issue with
the above-mentioned vacant lots (plots) stands exactly as reported by the Mayor and that
it is highly unjust that these lots should be distributed among external persons (refugees),
while the local citizens are to be given (compensated by) plots outside the city, on which the
latter cannot build, while the refugees can be given, without infringing upon their interests,
plots near town for temporary accommodation…
(Transcript N10, dated 15.04.1920, of
Svilengrad municipal council; RSA-Haskovo, 53К, оp. 1, а.е. 7).
A further look into the transcripts of theminutes fromthemeetings of theMunicipal council
in Svilengrad reveals that municipal officials regarded Thracian refugees as temporary settlers
until a much later date, even after the ratification of more sustainable measures in dealing with
this problem on behalf of the government. In fact, the basic initiatives of municipalities regarding
the accommodation of refugees were in concordance with the Law for the Housing Crisis from
1920 which provided town authorities with opportunities to undertake specific measures should
a housing crisis be announced in a given town or village. In Haskovo such a crisis was not officially
declared for a host of reasons, but in Svilengrad a severe housing crisis was announced as early
as on 1 July 1920. There followed measures for regulating the rents and for yard allocation for
the homeless with abandoned and municipal plots for house building. Nevertheless, there is
evidence that, at the time, the so-called housing courts were very slow and that the process of
yard allocation and property distribution was practically brought almost to a halt.
On the other hand, my research into the announcement of the
housing crisis
in Haskovo
indicated that towards the end of 1919 among the town population of between 17 000 or 20 000
people (according to different sources) there were only 794 people without houses, while the
available for rent accommodation could house 2000 (cf. Transcript N46 from 2 October 1919 of
Haskovo Municipal council; RSA-Haskovo, 12K, оp. 1, а.е. 81). By the middle of 1920, the number of
homeless rose insignificantly (798 people). Of course, there always exists the possibility that they
were not registering refugees on purpose, especially in the years prior to the establishment of the
Main Directorate for Refugee Accommodation and the withdrawal of the so-called Refugee Loan,
since the government at the time was practically not involved in assisting municipal authorities in
dealing with the refugee problem. On the contrary, the housing commissions and housing courts
in different towns across the country would drag on the measures for accommodating refugees
and the government would not make provisions for financingmunicipalities to the aimof building
houses, water pipelines, roads, etc. The slippages and discrepancies in the statements of opposing
municipal officials and official municipal statistics also testify to the possibility of them actually
“hiding” refugees (See, for instance, the transcripts from the Municipal council meetings held in
Haskovo in November 1920).