Bulgarian railways offers free trips to those fleeing Ukraine

Bulgarian state railways BDZ said that from March 2 it would provide free transportation to people arriving from Ukraine by rail in Bulgaria.

“For this purpose, anyone arriving from Ukraine may obtain a ticket for a train journey of their choice, on presentation of a regular identity document with which they have crossed the border to the ticket office staff or the train staff,” BDZ said.

“BDZ serves a total of 685 stations and stops with more than 570 trains per day, thus the company hopes to be useful in providing transport for residents arriving from Ukraine in Bulgaria,” it said.

In other news on March 2 related to Russia’s war on Ukraine, ordered by Russian President Putin:

Bulgaria’s State Agency for Refugees will send mobile groups to Bourgas and Varna to issue humanitarian status to refugees arriving on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, Bulgarian National Radio reported.

Dozens of Ukrainians, mostly mothers with children, are seeking opportunities for international protection, as granted by this status, the report said.

The European Commission said on March 2 that it was proposing to activate the Temporary Protection Directive  to offer quick and effective assistance to people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Under this proposal, those fleeing the war will be granted temporary protection in the EU, meaning that they will be given a residence permit, and they will have access to education and to the labour market.

At the same time, the Commission is also putting forward operational guidelines intended to help EU countries’ border guards in managing arrivals at the borders with Ukraine efficiently, while maintaining a high level of security.

The guidelines also recommend that member states set up special emergency support lanes to channel humanitarian aid and recall the possibility of granting access to the EU on humanitarian grounds.

The Commission said that since Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, over 650 000 people have fled to neighbouring EU member states.

The Temporary Protection Directive was specifically conceived to give immediate protection to people who need it and to avoid overwhelming member states’ asylum systems.

Under this proposal, Ukrainian nationals and people who have made Ukraine their home as well as their family members displaced by the conflict will be entitled to protection across the European Union, the Commission said.

Non-Ukrainian nationals and stateless people legally residing in Ukraine who cannot return to their country or region of origin, such as asylum seekers or beneficiaries of international protection and their family members, will also be granted protection in the EU.

Others who are legally present in Ukraine for a short-term and are able to return safely to their country of origins will fall outside the scope of this protection.

Nevertheless, they should be allowed access to the EU to transit prior to returning to their countries of origin, the Commission said.

The Foreign Ministry called on all Bulgarian citizens in Odessa district to stay at home after 10am or to look for the nearest bomb shelter.

The Prosecutor’s Office said on March 2 that it had initiated pre-trial proceedings in connection with espionage.

It said that it had established that a Russian diplomat had carried out “unregulated intelligence activities incompatible with diplomatic relations”.

The Prosecutor-General had informed the Foreign Minister, the statement said.

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, please click here.

(Photo: BDZ)

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