Holiday season

Bulgaria to relocate Ukrainian refugees from Black Sea hotels as holiday season approaches

FILE PHOTO: A child looks out of the window of temporary refugee accommodationPicture taken March 4, 2022. Picture taken through glass. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

SOFIA – Tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees who have taken refuge in Bulgaria’s Black Sea resorts will have to leave their hotels by June 1 due to cuts in government subsidies and the start of the summer holiday season .

When Ukrainians began to flee their country after Russia invaded on February 24, Bulgaria – like many other countries in Central and Eastern Europe – sprang into action to help them settle and house them. Bulgaria does not share a border with Ukraine and refugees had to travel there via Romania.

Of 97,000 refugees currently in the Balkan country, around 60,000, mostly women and children, have been accommodated in resorts, with the Bulgarian state offering a daily subsidy of 40 levs ($22) per person.

With the arrival of the holiday season and the government’s decision to reduce subsidies to just 15 levs a day from June 1, many establishments say they can no longer afford to take care of refugees. .

Authorities are preparing to move refugees to public facilities or other hotels across the country over the weekend, but hotel owners and refugees complain of a lack of information.

“Many Ukrainians have already said they will look for their own accommodation or leave the country,” Blagomir Kotsev, regional governor of the Black Sea city of Varna, said on Wednesday.

Kotsev said around 18,000 refugees would stay in hotels that agreed to accept less money, while around 20,000 Ukrainians plan to return home, meaning the state must find accommodation in public facilities for the remaining approximately 20,000 people.

He said transport was being arranged and for now it looked like there would be enough places to accommodate the refugees.

“GREAT ANXIETY”

Margarita Hristova, manager of a hotel in the Golden Sands resort which has hosted some 360 ​​refugees, said she had unsuccessfully sought information from state institutions about the impending transfers.

“I’m worried about the organization or rather the lack thereof. I suspect it will be chaotic,” she told national radio BNR.

The refugees themselves are no better informed.

“Which village or town we will go to, no one knows. The lack of information creates great anxiety,” Olga, a young Ukrainian, told private TV channel Nova at the Sunny Beach Resort.

Some refugees say they cannot afford to stay in resorts while others who come from war-hit areas of Ukraine are afraid to return.

“We have no job and nothing to live on. I have two children who need soup to grow up… and I don’t know when all this will end,” a young Ukrainian girl told the private. at a hotel in Sunny Beach. NOVA television channel.


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