Bulgaria: Ukrainians who have temporary protection may stay until February 2023

Everyone who has temporary protection in Bulgaria has the right to stay in the country until February 24 2023, when according to the EU directive, the term of temporary protection expires, a notice on the government website dedicated to Ukrainian refugees said on May 31.

The notice followed the suspension of the intended three-day operation to relocate Ukrainians in Bulgaria, with the end of the 40 leva per person per day support scheme for hotels accommodating Ukrainians.

The operation was abandoned against a background of large numbers of Ukrainians who had said that they were willing to be relocated from hotels to state facilities and other hotels having withdrawn at the last minute.

The notice said that refusal to be accommodated “in no way deprives other rights such as social benefits, health care and education, the right to work”.

It said that 4000 Ukrainians who have temporary protection had got jobs in Bulgaria, which, according to the site, was about 10 per cent of the able-bodied Ukrainians in Bulgaria.

More than 20 000 social benefits had been paid and more than 500 children had started school, and a further 1500 had applied for enrollment in the education system, the statement said.

Addressing itself to Ukrainians, it said: “What the state can provide you with at the moment as a shelter are the state holiday bases, where the employees of the various departments usually spend their summers.

“This year, the employees’ vacations there were cancelled so that we could shelter people fleeing the war.”

It said that the national headquarters’ new plan was that people would be given temporary accommodation in “buffer centres” before final distribution to the state facilities.

“The buffer centres are built to all standards and do not house other refugees. They will then be distributed to the relevant state bases around the country,” the statement said.

“In case you do not want to be accommodated in departmental holiday bases, please declare your refusal of accommodation under the humanitarian programmeme of Bulgaria,” it said.

“This refusal does not in any way take away your protection, but only allows us to properly plan the accommodation of all needy Ukrainian citizens. If you refuse accommodation under the programme, you still have the right to reside in Bulgaria until February 24 2023, when according to the EU directive the term of temporary protection expires.”

Bulgarian National Television (BNT) said on May 31 that the resettlement of refugees from Ukraine in “buffer centres” in Sarafovo and Elhovo was beginning.

BNT said that on May 31, a group of Ukrainians was expected to leave Bourgas for the camp in Elhovo.

Before noon, about 40 to 50 people in Sunny Beach were waiting for a bus to take them to the Ministry of Defence holiday complex in Sarafovo.

The report said that the complex was strictly guarded and had capacity for 200 to 250 people.

A tent camp of about 700 to 800 tents will be built on the site if there are large numbers of refugees, the report said.

Bourgas deputy district governor Plamen Yanev said: “Direct accommodation of Ukrainian citizens in state bases is over.

“Anyone who wishes to be placed in a state base must first go through a buffer camp, to establish their needs and then be directed to the relevant state base,” Yanev said.

“There is shelter, there is water, there is food, there are toilets, and especially in Sarafovo, this is a place where servicemen go to holiday every year, even though Ukrainian citizens think these conditions are inappropriate,” he said.

On May 31, the European Commission announced that it was launching an EU platform for the exchange of information on beneficiaries of temporary protection and adequate protection.

The Commission said that the platform will allow EU countries to exchange information on registered persons in real time so that individuals fleeing Ukraine can effectively benefit from their rights in all member states, while addressing instances of double or multiple registrations and limiting possible abuse.

“The Commission developed this technical solution at unprecedented pace as part of the 10-Point Plan – For stronger European coordination on welcoming people fleeing the war from Ukraine agreed at the extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council of March 28 2022,” the Commission said.

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