Various municipalities in Bulgaria willing to host evacuees, refugees from Ukraine

Various municipalities in Bulgaria have stated willingness to provide accommodation for Bulgarians from Ukraine, with some also saying that they would accommodate refugees from Ukraine.

Plovdiv municipality already has provided accommodation to a Bessarabian Bulgarian who arrived in the city in the early hours of February 25 and sough assistance from the municipality, Bulgarian National Television said.

Currently, Plovdiv municipality has accommodation available in a home for the elderly and in the dormitories of the Technical University Plovdiv and the University of Food Technology.

The possibility of accommodation in municipal housing is also being checked.

Velingrad municipality also has expressed readiness to shelter Ukrainian citizens who identify as Bulgarian and are in need of shelter and asylum.

The municipality has newly-built social housing, part of which could be used to accommodate people fleeing the war in Ukraine, which since February 24 has been under attack from Russian military forces acting on the orders of President Vladimir Putin.

Velingrad municipality also plans meetings with representatives of the hotel business about providing accommodation.

Smyadovo municipality is preparing an empty building, which will be provided to refugees from Ukraine if necessary, mayor Ivanka Petrova said.

“We have the opportunity to create normal living conditions. We can provide transport from the border to transport refugees,” she said.

Petrova sought support from her fellow citizens for this endeavor.

The smallest municipality in the Yambol district, Bolyarovo, is ready to accept refugees from Ukraine, Bulgarian National Radio said.

Two municipal buildings, which can accommodate between 15 and 18 people, have been prepared.

The deputy head of the National Association of Bulgarian Municipalities, Donka Mihailova, told Bulgarian National Radio that by February 28, the municipality will summarise how many Bulgarian refugees from Ukraine could be accommodated in municipal hotels and holiday sites.

“We are committed to supporting Ukrainian cities and regions within the capabilities of Bulgarian municipalities. Many Bulgarian municipalities are partners of Ukrainian cities,” Mihailova said.

Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Irena Dimitrova told a news conference on February 25 that 363 Bulgarian citizens in Kyiv and about 150 in Odessa had requested evacuation.

Anton Markov, head of the Foreign Ministry’s situation centre, said that Bulgarian citizens who did not have identity documents were being assisted so that they could return to Bulgaria.

Markov said that steps had been taken to ease the anti-Covid-19 rules, given the measures in place regarding entry to Bulgaria.

He said that if the arrivals are refugees, they are the responsibility of the State Agency for Refugees, and if they are Bulgarian citizens and have nowhere to go “we have the tools to help them”.

In Parliament, which was continuing on Friday to debate the second reading of Budget 2022, there was all-party support for an amendment tabled by budget committee chairperson Lyubomir Karimanski that would enable the provision of humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

(Photo of Plovdiv municipality: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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