Not Many Ukrainian Refugees have Stayed in Bulgaria since the Start of the Invasion

Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, Bulgaria has received 782,043 refugees at its borders and has granted temporary protection as per the Temporary Protection Directive of EU, to approximately 136,818 Ukrainian refugees, 87 percent of whom are women and children. 54,579 Ukrainian refugees remain within the country as of 5 October. During the first half of 2022, 1,287 applications for international protection were registered under the Asylum Law of Bulgaria from Ukrainian refugees. During the same period, Bulgaria also witnessed an increase in asylum applications from non-Ukrainian caseloads. Some 8,840 persons applied for international protection with the State Agency for Refugees (SAR), which represents an increase of 288 % compared with the same period in 2021. Most originate from Afghanistan, Syria and North Africa. UNHCR has stepped up its operations and capacity in Bulgaria and is leading the inter[1]agency response in alignment with the Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP).

Operational Context

In September, UNHCR observed a sizeable increase in the number of Ukrainians leaving Bulgaria, compared to the previous month. More than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees were recorded to have left Bulgaria between the period 5 September to 5 October. In August, the number of Ukrainians that arrived from Romania nearly equaled the number that was recorded leaving Bulgaria for other countries. That trend has now changed. Currently, there are significantly more departures than arrivals daily. It is believed that the growing uncertainty surrounding the mid to long-term extension of the government hotel accommodation scheme has contributed to the exodus of refugees. In addition, many refugees who have been staying in private accommodation...

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