Turnout for relocation of Ukrainians in Bulgaria continues to be low

On the second day of the operation to relocate Ukrainian refugees within Bulgaria, turnout continued to be low, with the State Agency for Refugees saying that within Ukrainian groups, “information” was circulating not to sign the relocation forms.

May 29, the first day, saw only 62 Ukrainians board trains at Varna and Bourgas railway stations, out of an expected 550 to be relocated to state accommodation facilities elsewhere in Bulgaria.

The Bulgarian government’s intention is to relocate several thousand Ukrainian refugees between May 29 and 31, as the 40 leva per person per day support scheme for hotel accommodation for Ukrainians in hotels comes to an end.

The new phase involves relocating Ukrainians who have told the state that they want accommodation to state facilities and hundreds of hotels that are to be paid 10 or 15 leva a day, depending on whether food is provided.

Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) reported that on the morning of May 30, a total of 84 Ukrainians boarded two buses at one of the largest hotels in Sunny Beach, which still houses more than 1000 Ukrainians.

BNR said that close to 300 Ukrainians from three hotels in Sunny Beach travelled by bus to Bourgas Railway Station to be transported to facilities in Bulgaria’s interior.

The report said that there was “commotion” when it became clear that no one could tell the Ukrainians where they were going, in which facilities they would be accommodated and to which city they would be transported.

BNR quoted one of the Ukrainians as saying: “All logic circuits are broken at the bottom, there is no information”.

Kiril Atanassov of the State Agency for Refugees said that the Ukrainians would leave on an afternoon train from Bourgas to Sofia.

The agency had prepared lists of Ukrainians who would travel by train, while those who travelled by car signed a declaration accepting responsibility for doing so.

BNR said that close to 80 Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children, left Varna by train for Sofia, with three additional carriages connected to the train. They are destined for facilities in Ribaritsa, Panichishte and Veliko Turnovo. The intention had been that 140 people would travel.

State Agency for Refugees head Mariana Tosheva told bTV on May 30: “Information is circulating in the internal groups of Ukrainian refugees not to sign the documents for relocation to departmental facilities”.

“Despite the preparation and the lists made at the time the buses appeared, a large number of people refused to board. Some say they will stay in the hotels until May 31, until the end of the programme, while others will decide what to do on their own, “Tosheva said.

She said that there was an improvement in the situation regarding available facilities.

“Last night several departments opened their bases and we are so calm with the secured places. Talks are continuing today about other bases that have not been submitted and are suitable,” Tosheva said.

“We expect the number of people willing to increase significantly,” she said.

(Photo, of Ukrainian refugees at Bourgas Railway Station on May 29: government.bg)

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