site.btaUNHCR Representative Kuzucu: Some 1.1 Mln Ukrainian Refugees Have Entered Bulgaria Since Onset of War
Some 1.1 million Ukrainian refugees have entered Bulgaria since the start of the war, Seda Kuzucu, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Bulgaria Representative, said at a BTA-hosted news conference in Sofia Wednesday. The event was occasioned by the fact that 24 February marks one year since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.
According to the data of the institutions in Bulgaria, more than 151,000 refugees from Ukraine have been registered for temporary protection and about 50,000 have remained in the country, Kuzucu noted.
Kuzucu commented that the war in Ukraine has unleashed the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. The devastation and destruction continues, she said, stressing that some 8 million refugees have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries. The war shows no signs of abating, and humanitarian needs are likely to continue to be great, Kuzucu also commented.
For this reason, UNHCR will move from emergency response to supporting governments to integrate refugees into national systems. The organization has already launched an appeal for USD 1.1 billion for 2023 to support the needs of affected populations in Ukraine and those who have fled to other countries in Europe. Assistance for Bulgaria is expected to amount to USD 19.4 million.
UNHCR and nine humanitarian partners will assist the Bulgarian government in providing vital support to up to 200,000 refugees from Ukraine, Kuzucu noted. She added that refugees will be encouraged to be included in long-term decisions made and led by the government as part of state and local government strategies. Protection actions this year will cover 45,000 refugees and 1,350 children who have received child protection services with assistance, Kuzucu further informed. UNHCR reports that US 7.6 million will be needed for the welfare and basic needs of Ukrainians. It will also work for their socio-economic integration.
UNHCR's priority will be to strengthen the self-reliance of refugees from Ukraine in Bulgaria, Kuzucu added. In this regard, it will also work with 600 entities from the private sector, trade unions, financial and academic institutions, etc. that have been contacted to promote, facilitate and coordinate the integration of refugees.
Kuzucu also stressed the need to provide psychological support for Ukrainians who reside in Bulgaria but "their soul and mind are in Ukraine".