Number of Ukrainian refugees who have remained in Bulgaria continues to decrease

The number of Ukrainians who have remained in Bulgaria after fleeing Russia’s war on their country is continuing to decrease as May 31 approaches, bringing the change of accommodation scheme.

From May 28 to 31, those Ukrainians wanting to remain in Bulgaria will moved from hotels to be accommodated elsewhere, mainly in state facilities.

The support scheme for hotels accommodating Ukrainians refugees also will change, from the state paying hoteliers 40 leva a day per person to per night, to paying either 10 or 15 leva, depending on whether food is provided.

The dedicated government portal showed on May 25 that of the 284 329 Ukrainians who had entered Bulgaria after the February 24 start of Russia’s current invasion of their country, 97 399 remained in Bulgaria.

This is a decrease of 1794 people in the past day.

Going by the figures posted on the government portal, just after mid-May about 104 000 Ukrainians had remained in Bulgaria.

Bulgarian National Radio said on May 25 that from May 28 to 31, close to 7000 Ukrainian refugees would be relocated from resorts near Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Varna to places inland.

Varna district governor Blagomir Kotsev told a news conference that a survey of the refugees and the organisation of the logistics of transporting them to the places where they will be accommodated were currently underway.

The Ukrainians will be transported by rail. Additional carriages and separate trains will be used, so as not to mix passenger flows, according to the district administration.

Currently, 59 335 Ukrainians are accommodated in Bulgaria, according to the government portal.

BNR said that about 20 000 had said that they intended returning to Ukraine, and a large percentage of the others had said that they would look for alternative accommodation in Bulgaria.

Hotelier Margarita Hristova complained to BNR that there was a lack of communication with the authorities:

“All refugees accommodated at the hotel have been informed that the last possible overnight stay at the hotel is May 31,” Hristova said.

“I even made them personally sign a declaration, which we made here on the spot, that they were informed, that they knew. I called to the crisis centre to confirm. I have communicated with the ministries, they know about it. We have about 360 refugees. I have no feedback, no information,” she said.

Meanwhile, in a report on May 25, European Union statistics agency Eurostat said that in February 2022, the number of Ukrainian first-time applicants for international protection in EU member states soared by 568 per cent compared with January – from 355 to 2370.

Of the 2370 who applied in February, 710 applied in Romania, 150 in Poland, 145 in Portugal and 135 in Austria. Among the list of 27 EU countries, there were 20 applications in Bulgaria.

Overall, Eurostat said, 54 565 first-time asylum applicants (non-EU citizens) applied for international protection in the EU member states in February, up 85 per cent compared with February 2021 (29 470) and up three compared with January 2022 (52 810).

The increase from January to February 2022 can be largely attributed to the increase in Ukrainian first-time applicants, Eurostat said.

In February 2022, Afghans were the largest group of persons seeking asylum (7075 first-time applicants). They were followed by Syrians (6775), ahead of Venezuelans (4205), Colombians (3110) and Ukrainians (2370), Eurostat said.

(Archive photo, of the temporary reception point at Sofia Central Railway Station: Sofia municipality

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The Sofia Globe staff

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