Bulgaria to move Ukrainian refugees from hotels to state facilities

Bulgaria will continue to accommodate Ukrainian refugees, moving them from hotels to state facilities, caretaker Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev said on October 31, hours before the accommodation programme was scheduled to end.

The scheme was put in place by the former Petkov government earlier in 2022 as large numbers of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s war on their country sought refuge in Bulgaria.

The first phase of the scheme involved payments to hoteliers of 40 leva per person per day for taking in Ukrainian refugees. The second phase involved 10 or 15 leva per day, without value-added tax, depending on whether food was provided. This phase was extended until the end of October by the caretaker government that took office in early August.

Demerdzhiev said that the caretaker government had “provided the necessary places and opportunities” for the change to the scheme.

He said that a 15-day deadline would be given, until mid-November, for people who were accommodated in hotels to be moved to suitable facilities.

“Only Bulgaria and two other countries – Cyprus and Ireland, provide such protection for an unlimited period. On the other hand, we want to make sure that in the coming winter conditions, these people will be accommodated in suitable places and they will not have to move to harsh climatic conditions,” Demerdzhiev said.

Caretaker Tourism Minister Ilin Dimitrov said that the money that Bulgaria had allocated was significant, even compared with other EU member states.

Dimitrov said that so far, close to 523 million leva (about 267 million euro) had been paid out, of which 200 million leva had come from the national Budget and about 300 million from European Union programmes and funds.

According to Dimitrov, “we are not leaving anyone on the street, those in need of protection will be accommodated in government facilities and care for them will continue”.

“I want to sincerely thank the hoteliers who opened their hotels in the first wave, there were ambiguities, but they nevertheless took this risk,” he said.

Dimitrov gave an assurance that all funds due to hoteliers would be paid.

“There are three options in which sums may not be paid – if the person has left the hotel, but continues to be registered there, the second is when he has started work and has not reported within a month, and the third hypothesis is when a person is accommodated in more than one hotel,” Dimitrov said.

According to the dedicated government portal, as of October 31, a total of 852 998 Ukrainians have entered Bulgaria since the February 24 2022 Russian invasion of their country.

A total of 54 968 remain in Bulgaria. There are 51 496 children.

The portal said that 16 130 are accommodated.

Bulgaria has granted temporary protection status to 143 670 Ukrainians, the update said.

(Archive photo: Just4You/freeimages.com)

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