Twenty per cent of the hotels on Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast accommodating Ukrainian refugees are to tell them to vacate their rooms from the beginning of December, Bulgarian National Radio reported hoteliers in Sunny Beach as saying.
This is among the latest developments after Bulgaria’s caretaker government extended the scheme for accommodating Ukrainian refugees, but without making provision for paying for food for them.
The amended version of the scheme, which took effect in November, says that hotels that had been housing Ukrainian refugees may continue to be eligible for the state support, but only for the refugees who had been in the hotels as at the end of October.
If the Ukrainian refugees change hotels, the new hotel may not claim support under the scheme, and if a Ukrainian checks out and wants to return, the state support also falls away.
New arrivals from Ukraine are to be accommodated in state and municipal facilities.
Bulgarian National Radio said on November 29 that the Bulgarian Tourism Association had three demands, that it would put to the caretaker government, the national operational headquarters and the Tourism Ministry.
Bulgarian Tourism Association regional director Elena Antonova said that the first and most important of these demands was to give the hoteliers the right to re-book unoccupied or vacated rooms.
“A large number of hoteliers have a problem where, for example, two of the members of one family are accommodated in the hotel, one of them – the mother, has gone to Ukraine to collect luggage, after which she cannot go back to the hotel,” Antonova said.
She said that the second point was food. The state had said that it would no longer pay to feed the Ukrainian refugees, but the industry had made a call for food packages. The Bulgarian Red Cross had been providing such assistance, but the question was how regularly this would happen, she said.
The third demand was for the state support for October, or additional payment for previous months, to be paid out.
“Many of the hoteliers did not receive a sum for food during all the months. They received a partial payment,” Antonova said.
The association is demanding an urgent meeting with the caretaker ministers of interior and tourism, to put their questions to them.
The head of the Bulgarian Red Cross in Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea city of Bourgas, Violeta Radeva, told Bulgarian National Radio that the organisation was continuing to distribute food packages to hotels and state places of accommodation where Ukrainian refugees were housed.
Some of the packages had been bought using funds raised in the Bulgarian Red Cross’s charity campaign, and the rest had been donated by the UAE, Radeva said.
The head of the Bulgarian Red Cross in the northern coastal city of Varna, Ilko Raev, told Bulgarian National Radio that the previous day, he had met a woman who had not eaten for four days.
Raev said that the Bulgarian Red Cross was ensuring food supplies for one month in the Varna district.
How things would proceed from was not clear, according to the report.
“We have a big problem, which is called the state,” Raev said.
As things stood, he said, “it is not clear who is going where, and with what – only an overnight stay, without heating, without food. These things need to be cleared up”.
According to the most recent figures posted on the Bulgarian government information portal on Ukrainian refugees on November 28, a total of 910 594 have entered Bulgaria since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of their country, of whom 51 661 remain in Bulgaria.
A total of 12 954 are accommodated through the state scheme. As of October 31, the figure was 16 130, according to figures posted on the portal at the time.
Please support The Sofia Globe’s independent journalism by clicking on the orange button below and signing up to become a supporter via patreon com, for as little as three euro a month or the equivalent in other currencies.