After one year of the war in Ukraine, UNICEF calls to continue support and solidarity for Ukrainian children in Bulgaria
UNICEF presents a documentary with the stories of Ukrainian families settled in Bulgaria after the beginning of the war
SOFIA, February 2023 – One year since the escalation of the war in Ukraine on 24 February 2022, a generation of children has experienced 12 months of violence, fear, loss and tragedy. There is not a single aspect of children’s lives that the conflict has not impacted, with children killed, injured, forced from their homes, missing out on critical education and denied the benefits of a safe and secure childhood.
“One year of the Ukraine war is another stark reminder of how much children and families in Ukraine have lost”,
says Christina de Bruin, the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Bulgaria.
“The war in Ukraine is robbing children of stability, safety, school, friends, family, a home, and hopes for the future. It is leaving invisible wounds that must be healed through our collective support”.
Since the war started, some 1.1 million Ukrainian refugees have entered Bulgaria, and approximately 150,000 people have applied for temporary protection. While many Ukrainians have now returned home or moved to other locations, some 50,000 Ukrainian refugees still remain in Bulgaria. Around 10,000 of them live in hotels and accommodation facilities, supported by the state authorities. Their integration into society is crucial as the war enters its second year.
On 24 February 2023, UNICEF will present a new documentary as a reminder about the importance of solidarity and support for displaced children and caregivers who have found their new home in Bulgaria.
The "Childhood 2.0" documentary, produced by UNICEF and NO BLINK Pictures, is dedicated to these new beginnings. It follows the stories of Ukrainian families who sought refuge in Bulgaria after the start of the war. The documentary is directed by Atanas Hristoskov and produced by Alek Aleksiev who also participates in the film.
A year on, the documentary would like to focus the public's attention on the enormous efforts and support offered to Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria. It also hopes to shed light on problems related to education, health care, shelter, and the labor market. The characters featured prove that integration is possible and shared responsibility – for both refugees and the welcoming and hospitable Bulgarian community.
“Every child, no matter who they are or where they come from, is above all else a child – with dreams, abilities, and potential”
- adds Ms. Christina de Bruin.
What challenges do refugee children face in a new environment? What roles and responsibilities does this displacement impose on children? How successfully do they cope with the adaptation, as well as their parents? These are some of the questions the documentary seeks to answer through the eyes of its main characters.
And they are:
Anastasia, who arrives in Bulgaria with her 8-year-old daughter and her mother and since her arrival is looking for a way to be useful to her community. She began creative work with children in the Blue Dot safe space, protection and support hub, established by UNICEF and partners in Varna;
Yeva, who came to Sofia at the age of 16 and quickly looked for a way to take care of herself. Her love for animals helped her discover this opportunity in a grooming center for pets;
Lena, living in Sofia with her three sons whose profession as a photographer in Kiev helped her quickly find a career by documenting everyday life at Za Dobroto refugee support center;
Tetyana, who left Ukraine after a rocket destroyed her home and had just overcome a severe oncological disease. In our country, however, she meets love and together with her boyfriend they are expecting a child this spring, because life must go on!
UNICEF Bulgaria national ambassador actress Elena Petrova also participates in the documentary.
“Our documentary is a gesture of gratitude to Bulgaria and a call to action for people, through solidarity, friendship, and opportunity, to recognize their own power to change the world.”
In Bulgaria, UNICEF has been working with authorities, donors, local organizations, communities, and partners to deliver emergency assistance and support services to families fleeing the war. Last year, UNICEF reached 60,000 children and caregivers on the move with psycho-social support, legal assistance, and access to social services. This school year, UNICEF has also ensured access for 5,000 Ukrainian refugee children to education through support with their enrollment in the Bulgarian system as well as establishing temporary learning hubs across the country. To support the most vulnerable, UNICEF and its partners have also provided 15,000 children and families with warm clothes, blankets, hygiene items, and other winter supplies in Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, and other localities in Bulgaria.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org
Since 24 February 2022, UNICEF, thanks to the support of the international community, has provided learning supplies to 770,000 children, engaged 1.4 million children in formal and non-formal education, provided mental health and psychosocial support to 2.9 million children and caregivers, provided gender-based violence response services to 352,000 women and children, provided access to safe water for 4.6 million people, provided healthcare services to 4.9 million people, and provided multi-purpose cash assistance to 1.4 million people inside Ukraine and 47,494 households in neighbouring countries.