Tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees who have taken refuge in Bulgaria’s Black Sea resorts will have to vacate 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 the 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 end-of-year holidays and the government’s decision to reduce subsidies to just 15 levs per 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 areas of Ukraine hard hit by war are afraid to return. “We have no job and no way to live. I have two children who need soup to grow… and I don’t know when this is all going to end,” a young Ukrainian girl told the private at a hotel in Sunny Beach. NOVA television channel. ($1 = 1.8369 leva)
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