UNHCR says increasing number of Ukrainians leaving Bulgaria

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said that it has observed a “sizeable increase” in the number of Ukrainians leaving Bulgaria, compared to the previous month.

This is according to the UNHCR Ukraine Refugee Situation Operational Update for Bulgaria, released to the media on October 6.

According to the report, more than 100 000 Ukrainian refugees were recorded to have left Bulgaria between the period
5 September to 5 October.

Whereas the number of Ukrainians that arrived in August nearly equalled the number that was recorded leaving Bulgaria for other countries, the trend changed in Spetember, when there were significantly more departures than arrivals daily.

“It is believed that the growing uncertainty surrounding the mid to long term extension of the government hotel accommodation scheme has contributed to the exodus of refugees. In addition, many refugees who have been staying in private accommodation cannot afford to continue doing so,” the report said.

UNHCR said that the majority of refugees leaving Bulgaria were believed to be returning home to Ukraine, with smaller numbers departing for other parts of Europe.

UNHCR estimated the number of Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria as of October 5 at 54 579. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Bulgaria has received 782 043 refugees at its borders and has granted temporary protection to approximately
136 818 Ukrainian refugees.

A check by The Sofia Globe on October 6 on the dedicated portal set up by the former government showed that the information on it had not been updated since the caretaker government appointed by President Roumen Radev took office on August 2. It listed 85 483 Ukrainian refugees staying in Bulgaria, the same figure as two months ago.

According to the UNHCR update, the Bulgarian government’s hotel accommodation scheme currently hosts about 12 791 people – about 20 per cent of all Ukrainian refugees that have remained in Bulgaria – and has been extended through October.

“UNHCR has been actively advocating with the Government for a more durable, long-term solution to meet the accommodation needs of refugees, especially with the winter season fast approaching,” the report said.

“While there has been a 23 per cent reduction in the number of Ukrainian refugees remaining in Bulgaria over the past month, it is estimated that those who will remain during the winter months will be among the most vulnerable. These vulnerable refugees will likely be in need of both material and financial support to be able to survive the winter,” UNHCR said.

(Photo: Just4You/freeimages.com)

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