Bulgaria’s Border Police said on March 15 that so far 267 applications for international protection had been handed to them by Ukranians.
The applications had been forwarded to the State Agency for Refugees.
Under Bulgarian law, applications for international protection may be submitted to the State Agency for Refugees or any state body, with the latter obliged to forward them to the agency.
This means that the current number of applications likely exceeds the figure announced by the Border Police.
The Border Police said that since February 24, more than 81 000 Ukrainian citizens had entered Bulgaria, and 38 000 remained in the country.
The UN refugee agency said on March 15 that 2 969 600 people had fled Ukraine, of whom more than 1.8 million went to Poland.
The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) said that those who had left Ukraine since the start of Russia’s war on the country included 1.5 million children.
Unicef estimated that children were leaving Ukraine at a rate of 55 a minute “or about one child every second”.
Bulgaria’s Education Ministry said that 91 applications had been submitted by Ukrainians seeking or receiving international protection who wanted their children to continue their education in Bulgaria.
There had been 78 applications to enrol Ukrainian children in school and 13 in kindergarten, the ministry said.
Figures from Bulgaria’s regional departments of education showed that schools in the country had close to 65 000 vacancies that could be filled by Ukrainian children.
The largest numbers of vacancies were at schools in Varna, Veliko Turnovo and Bourgas.
There are close to 14 000 vacancies in kindergartens, with the largest numbers in the districts of Razgrad, Varna and Sofia
The report said that there were enough Bulgarian language teachers in all 28 districts to enable additional Bulgarian language classes.
The Bulgarian government has set up a website to assist Ukrainians, and to provide information to those in Bulgaria who want to help: ukraine.gov.bg. The website has versions in Ukrainian, English, Bulgarian and Russian.
The governnment has opened a four-language hotline to help those fleeing the war in Ukraine and for all issues related to receiving them in Bulgaria. The telephone numbers are 02/9055555 and +380 322465075.
To support the 7.5 million children in Ukraine who are in danger, Unicef has launched a global appeal. In line with this, Unicef in Bulgaria launched an emergency fundraising campaign to provide emergency humanitarian aid to children and families in Ukraine. You can find additional information by following this link.
Sofia municipality has created an internet platform to help Ukrainian citizens seeking protection in Sofia. https://www.sofia.bg/bg-for-ua .
(Archive photo: European Parliament)
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