With the war in Ukraine about to enter its second year, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and 18 UN and humanitarian partners, appealed on February 16 for $43.4 million to assist Bulgaria’s government in providing vital support for up to 200 000 refugees from Ukraine in the country, a media statement by the refugee agency said.
Nearly 1.1 million Ukrainian refugees have entered Bulgaria since February 24 2022, according to official data from the State Agency for Refugees and Chief Directorate Border Police.
Bulgaria has registered more than 151 000 refugees from Ukraine for Temporary Protection and some 50 000 have remained in the country.
“Bulgaria’s people and government have generously received and helped tens of thousands of Ukrainians in need, in a remarkable show of solidarity with the plight of refugees” Seda Kuzucu, UNHCR Representative in Bulgaria and Refugee Coordinator, said.
“As one of the first countries in the European Union to provide Temporary Protection, Bulgaria has supported refugees with shelter and basic services, and has provided them with a range of rights, including the right to work.”
“However, as the war goes on, refugees need continued support and solidarity until they are able to return to their homes in safety and dignity, which must remain the priority,” Kuzucu said.
“Ukrainians have many ties to Bulgaria, and they have arrived in the country with a wealth of skills, and experience, and a willingness to contribute to their host communities.”
The February 16 appeal is part of the Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP) for refugees from Ukraine launched in Geneva on 15 February with an appeal for $1.7 billion.
The plan includes 10 refugee host countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, with some 250 partners – more than half of whom are national partners. These funds will help 4.2 million Ukrainian refugees and communities in countries hosting them, the media statement said.
The humanitarian situation in Ukraine deteriorated rapidly in 2022, after the Russian Federation’s invasion escalated eight years of conflict in the east into a full-scale war, the statement said.
The devastation and destruction have been staggering, with some 40 per cent of Ukraine’s population now in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. The war has also forced many to flee Ukraine, resulting in a humanitarian crisis of a scale not witnessed in Europe for decades.
Last year, regional RRP partners reached millions of refugees from Ukraine with protection and assistance, including more than 1.1 million people who received support in accessing protection as well as over 609 000 children who benefited from child protection services.
Almost a million refugees received in-kind support and more than 885 000 people received urgent cash assistance to cover their basic needs.
In 2023, the Bulgaria chapter of the regional RRP chapter represents the strong commitment of 18 humanitarian partners to work jointly and through a coordinated response on the challenges affecting refugees fleeing Ukraine and in need of international protection, as well as affected host communities.
A significant emphasis of the inter-agency response in Bulgaria is focused on supporting the Government in providing key protection services, livelihoods support and inclusion opportunities.
With the possibility of an increase in refugee numbers in 2023, the authorities’ response efforts will be complemented by coordinated interventions of UN agencies, national NGOs, civil society actors, community-based and faith-based organizations, and the International Federation of the Red Cross in a coherent and consistent manner.
The RRP partners in Bulgaria are UN Agencies: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Health Organization (WHO); National NGOs: Aid for Ukraine, Ak-Nordost, Association Energy, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Dignita, Foundation for Access to Rights, Pituary Foundation, Reachout Foundation, Situation Centre Open Doors, Ukraine Support and Renovation Foundation, Za Dobroto Foundation; IFRC & Red Cross/ Crescent Societies: Bulgarian Red Cross, Faith-based Organizations, Caritas Bulgaria, Regional Organizations, International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD).
(Archive photo: government.bg)
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