UNHCR and UNICEF Bulgaria open a support centre for refugees from Ukraine ‘Blue Dot‘ in Varna
Аround 7,000 refugees, including children with disabilities and unaccompanied children, have received services at the ‘Blue Dots’ in Bulgaria
Varna, 13 July 2022 – The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bulgaria, in partnership with the Bulgarian Red Cross (BRC), the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) and representatives of the refugee community, today inaugurated a Blue Dot Safe Space, Protection and Support Hub in Varna. The space is located at the BRC’s headquarters in the city and was opened in the presence of UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria Christina de Bruin, UNHCR Representative in Bulgaria Rao Narasimha, Mr. Blagomir Kotsev, Regional Governor, Varna and Mr. Ilia Raev, Chairperson, BRC Varna.
Actress Elena Petrova national UNICEF Ambassador also took part in the opening ceremony.
More than 5 million refugees have been forced to flee Ukraine since 24 February 2022. Since then, over 450,000 people from Ukraine have arrived in Bulgaria, out of whom over 87,000 are remaining in the country. Out of all received temporary protection in Bulgaria, almost 40% are children. Most of the refugees that remain in the country have decided to settle in the Black Sea area and more specifically in the Varna region.
UNICEF and UNHCR have established 30 Blue Dots along major transit routes of which 6 Blue Dots in Bulgaria – safe spaces providing support to the families fleeing the war in Ukraine.
The Blue Dots are safe spaces and one-stop hubs for protection and essential services, rolled out in countries hosting refugees from Ukraine – including Poland, Romania, and Moldova – to provide key protection and social services including information, legal counseling, psychological support, identification and referrals for children, women, families, and other people and groups exposed to specific heightened risks as they flee the conflict in Ukraine.
‘Both UNICEF and UNHCR are grateful for the compassion, generosity and solidarity of Ukraine’s neighbors who are taking in those seeking safety. It is important that this solidarity is extended without any discrimination. All children regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or culture must be afforded the same treatment and protection’
‘The ‘Blue Dots’ have become a recognizable modality of emergency assistance and have proven to be a good example of collaboration between UNICEF and UNHCR, as well as with other partners, national and local authorities and their statutory services. All vulnerable PoCs who receive support in the Blue Dot in Varna are also heavily relying on the support of the local host community. We would like to thank once again the local population in Varna, as well as the experts working in the ‘Blue Dot’, for reaching out with a helping hand to all who are forced to flee their homes. We should always remember that no one choses to become a refugee’, said UNHCR Representative in Bulgaria Rao Narasimha.
The ‘Blue Dots’ expand the assistance provided by national governments and are organized in coordination with state authorities and other partners along key transit routes and destinations to help children and families in need.
‘All children’s rights, including access to healthcare, protection, education and other services – must be guaranteed. That is why it is so important to show solidarity. Every child needs our care and acceptance, but most of all they need peace’, said Elena Petrova, national UNICEF Ambassador in Bulgaria.
‘Now before the start of the new school year, I would like to confirm our commitment to provide support in the access to education for every child. I would urge families to enroll children at school and kindergarten. School and the daily care will give part of the sense of normality for the children. Education stays the bridge for a brighter future in times of war.’
So far, around 7,000 refugees, including children with disabilities and unaccompanied children, have received services at the ‘Blue Dots’ in Bulgaria.
- Over 1,600 children have received support in the child-friendly spaces
- 800 people have received psychosocial support
- More than 5,000 people have received information or have been offered referral services