Bulgarian hoteliers awaiting clarity from caretaker government on Ukrainian accommodation scheme

November 15 was meant to be the last day of the grace period for the hotel accommodation scheme for Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria, but hoteliers are still awaiting official information from the caretaker government about what is to become of the scheme, reports said.

On November 12, Bulgarian National Radio quoted caretaker Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev as saying that Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria would stay a further four months in the places where they are accommodated, under the same conditions.

Three days later, there has been no official announcement from the government on the matter.

Given that the change to the scheme – to move the Ukrainian refugees from hotels to state accommodation facilities – was a decision by the caretaker government on October 31, presumably a new decision would be required to amend the scheme in line with Demerdzhiev’s statements on Saturday.

However, it is not known whether the caretaker government has already made a decision, or whether it will do so at its meeting this week.

On November 15, Bulgarian National Radio reported Natalia Atanassova, who is accommodating 115 Ukrainians in her hotel in Balchik on the Black Sea coast, as saying that hoteliers had no answers to their questions about the accommodation programme.

“I cannot confirm to them that tomorrow they will enjoy the privileges that we provide them today,” Atanassova said.

According to Atanasova, the sum of 15 leva per day due to hoteliers accommodating Ukrainian refugees, is extremely insufficient and it must be reconsidered, given the increased prices of food products and the beginning of the heating season.

Stanislav Dimitrov, manager of a hotel in the coastal village of Kranev, said that about 20 Ukrainians had left the hotel, with 170 remaining.

Dimitrov said that about 10 to 15 per cent of Ukrainians were heading to Romania, Slovenia or Poland, where there was clarity regarding the accommodation of refugees.

Vera Nikolova, manager of another hotel where 300 Ukrainians have found refuge, is waiting for the announcement to be made official that the humanitarian programme is being extended by four months.

Nikolova said that the 15 leva per person for shelter and food would be extremely insufficient during the winter months.

On November 15, the Bulgarian government dedicated portal gave the number of Ukrainian refugees accommodated as 12 838, down from the 15 130 stated on October 31.

The portal said that of 884 754 Ukrainians who had entered Bulgaria since the February 2022 Russian invasion of their country, 53 095 remained. On October 31, the figure was 54 968.

(Photo: Raphael Schaller/unsplash)

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