Two-thirds of Ukrainians who sought shelter in Bulgaria have quit the country

About two-thirds of Ukrainians who sought shelter in Bulgaria after fleeing Russia’s war on their country have moved on elsewhere, going by figures as of January 3 posted by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

According to the UN refugee agency, 97 311 Ukrainian refugees who came to Bulgaria have left the country, while 51 140 remained.

Separately, according to the figures on the Bulgarian government’s Bulgaria for Ukraine dedicated website, a total of 980 860 Ukrainians have entered Bulgaria since the February 2022 Russian invasion of the country.

A total of 50 573 remain in Bulgaria, the website said.

A total of 149 479 have been registered for temporary protection by Bulgaria, while 8676 are accommodated through a government scheme.

The accommodation scheme was put in place by the then-government headed by Kiril Petkov soon after Ukrainian refugees began arriving in Bulgaria in large numbers.

The scheme was repeatedly extended, although in the final months of 2022, the caretaker government appointed by President Roumen Radev amended it so that provision is made for accommodation but not for paying for food for the Ukrainians.

On January 6, caretaker Interior Minister Ivan Demderzhiev told the National Assembly the protection scheme for Ukrainians refugees in Bulgaria would be extended.

“Bulgaria is making efforts to integrate those who permanently stay in Bulgaria – to find them jobs and proper education but also to distinguish refugees from Ukrainian tourists who had flooded the country,” Demerdzhiev said, according to a report by news agency BTA.

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