Bulgaria begins relocating Ukrainians who fled war

Two weeks before the expiry of the current Bulgarian government scheme to subsidise hotel accommodation for Ukrainians who have fled Russia’s war on their country, Bulgaria’s operation to relocate them from hotels to state and municipal facilities is beginning, according to a report on May 16 by Bulgarian National Radio.

However, the government’s task force is still seeking to make up a shortfall in such accommodation, and today intends putting online a platform to survey how many Ukrainians in Bulgaria want accommodation.

The intention is to relocate the Ukrainians mainly using rail transport, according to announcements last week. The operation is expected to involve moving several thousand people.

Bulgarian National Radio said that Deputy Prime Minister Kalina Konstantinova, who chairs the task force, had written to municipalities, giving them a deadline of May 13 to specify what accommodation they had available.

According to the letter, the government is seeking halls, even gyms, and holiday accommodation for possible housing of groups of more than 100 refugees. The requirements include that there should be a minimum of four cubic metres per person.

BNR said that many municipalities had said in advance that they could not accommodate many people.

The hotel accommodation scheme thus far has involved the state paying hotels 40 leva per person per day, while on May 16, State Agency for Refugees head Mariana Tosheva said in an interview with bTV that after May 31, there could be an offer to lower-category hotels to pay them 15 leva a day per person to continue to accommodate Ukrainians or accept new refugees.

Bulgarian media said that some hotels in the country’s Black Sea resorts were trying to make the most of the time remaining, posting on social networks offers to Ukrainians to stay between today and May 31.

Tosheva told bTV that there were currently 63 127 Ukrainians in hotels that were participating in the 40 leva a day scheme.

The digital platform to be launched “by the end of the day” would require them to register to see who will be directed where.

One option is state holiday facilities, and since Thursday last week, the number of places available there has increased slightly, to 35 000 places that have been confirmed and checked.

Data indicate that in recent days, more Ukrainians are leaving Bulgaria than are arriving.

Tosheva said that on May 14, a total of 2441 Ukrainians had entered Bulgaria and 2792 had left. She said that this had been the trend for the preceding week.

There were options for provide three months of rent assistance for those who go to private accommodation, and a backup plan to open dormitories and sports facilities, with the necessary equipment transferred to Bulgaria from Turkey, she said.

On May 16, Bulgarian National Radio said that the Employment Agency had launched an information campaign entitled “Working in BG”.

It was aimed primarily at Ukrainian citizens, but was not limited to them, the report said.

Labour Bureau teams are at 90 points in the country, to provide information and guidance to job seekers. The vacancies are mainly in Bulgaria’s tourism industry.

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