Interior Ministry: Bulgaria has 34 000 places for Ukrainian refugees in state facilities

Bulgaria has 34 000 places in state facilities available for accommodating Ukrainian refugees who have been staying in hotels, caretaker Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev said on November 3, according to a report by Bulgarian National Radio.

Demerdzhiev’s statement came four days after the caretaker government decided to change the system for accommodating Ukrainian refugees, setting a target of mid-November for them to be moved from hotels to state and municipal facilities.

The move has caused dismay and confusion among the many thousands of Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria and has been the subject of an outcry by hoteliers that have been eligible for state support under the humanitarian accommodation programme.

According to the dedicated government portal, 54 665 of the Ukrainians who arrived in Bulgaria after Russia’s February 2022 invasion of their country remain in Bulgaria. A total of 11 409 are accommodated through the scheme, the portal said.

Demerdzhiev said that the list of state facilities throughout the country had been handed to the Border Police.

First, the state facilities along the Black Sea would be occupied, after which the Ukrainians refugees would be settled in the interior of the country, he said.

He said that the facilities would be “phased in”.

“We’ve made a list of these bases, we’ve secured them, we’ve verified that they have the material ability to host people, at no point will we allow ourselves to be in a situation where there’s nowhere for people who wish to be accommodated,” Demerzhiev said.

The information should be on the website of the group that deals with refugees from Ukraine, he said.

According to Demerdzhiev, 3200 refugees were “missing” from hotels that had claimed money for accommodating them.

“We did an inspection and it is alarming, by the way. The goal was to establish the profile of the people staying in the hotels and see which of them fall into the so-called vulnerable groups. Out of 14 000 people checked, it turned out that 3200 are missing – they are not in the places of accommodation where it is indicated that they are,” he said.

Nova Televizia reported on November 3 that Ukrainian refugees housed in hotels in the Golden Sands resort protested against the uncertainty about their future and their relocation to state facilities.

The disaffected were mostly women and children, who held up placards including: “Don’t make me change schools” and “I can’t change family doctors”.

Protesters chanted “Please help”. Some waved the Ukrainian national flag.

(Photo of Demerdzhiev:

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