The quarterly newsletter of UNHCR Bulgaria “Refugees In Brief” provided inDecember updated information about UNHCR activities and its persons of concern in Bulgaria and worldwide.
In 2021, a total of 10,799 arrivals have arrived in Bulgaria. The number of arrivals in 2021 is three times higher compared to 2020 when 3,487 persons have arrived. 79% of all arrivals in 2021 (8,521) have arrived in the second half of the year. The number of arrivals in the last quarter of 2021 exceeded by 22% the number of all arrivals in 2020. During the last quarter of 2021, a 1% decline of arrivals was observed compared to the third quarter.
Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq were the three top countries of origin in 2021. Afghan nationals represents the largest part (60%) of all arrivals in 2021 with 83% of them arriving in the second half of the year. Almost half of all arrivals from Afghanistan in 2021 have arrived in the last quarter of the year. 27% of the arrivals are Syrian nationals and 4% are coming from Iraq.
A total of 10,999 applications for international protection have been submitted in 2021. Their number is three times higher compared to 2020 when 3,525 applications have been submitted. In the second half of the year there is a considerable increase of the number of applications for international protection. 79% of all applications (8,722) have been submitted during the second half of 2021. The positive decisions represent only 18% of all decisions made in 2021 and the rate of rejections is 11%. Rest of the applications were either closed, since the applicants are no longer present in Bulgaria, or pending for determination.
Capacity of reception facilities administrated by State Agency for Refugees
Remaining capacity 2,683 (52%)
Capacity of Special Centers For Temporary Accommodation of Foreigners (SCTAFs) administrated by Directorate Migration
Remaining capacity 572 (44%)
The State Agency for Refugees has granted international protection to all the 48 Afghans who were brought to Bulgaria under the decision of the Council of Ministers in August 2021. On August 25, Stefan Yanev, the caretaker PM, announced that Bulgaria is ready to provide asylum to 70 persons (Afghan nationals and their families) who worked for the Bulgarian embassy in Kabul or were employed by EU and NATO offices in Afghanistan.
Since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in August 2021, the humanitarian situation in the country worsened rapidly. The impact of the conflict on Afghan women and girls is particularly worrying. 80% of nearly a quarter of a million Afghans forced to flee since the end of May 2021 are women and children. In December 2021, bTV channel has broadcast a documentary which tells the stories of three Afghan women who have left their country and rebuild their lives in Bulgaria.
Bulgarian Government will allocate humanitarian aid to cover urgent needs in Afghanistan and Ukraine. An amount of BGN 146,687 will be allocated to UNHCR and BGN 48,896 to UNICEF for humanitarian activities in Afghanistan. The humanitarian aid for Ukraine, at the amount of BGN 136,908, will be directed to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The humanitarian aid provided by Bulgaria is part of the efforts of the international community to cover the urgent humanitarian needs of the population in these crisis regions. Bulgaria will continue to establish itself as a predictable donor and reliable partner in the EU and the international community through its contribution to the efforts to meet the most pressing humanitarian challenges.
The Refugee Advisory Board (RAB) has been registered as an independent NGO under the same name. The establishment of RAB by UNHCR Bulgaria is an example of involvement of refugeeled organizations in the process of decision-making. A key feature of RAB future strategy envisages to cooperate with existing organizations.
UNHCR, Sofia Development Association (ARD), Sofia Municipality (SO), Caritas Sofia presented the first awards for responsible employers of refugees and migrants in SofiaLab.
The awards are also part of the activities of the Office for Information and Services for Foreign Citizens, opened in October 2021 with the joint efforts of UNHCR, CO, ADR, BRC and with the support of Revival Markets and co-financed by the EU through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund under the Connection project.
The members of the Working Group on Integration, coordinated by UNHCR, as well as representatives of CITUB, BCCI collected nominations from companies in 5 categories related to the successful integration of refugees and migrants. The distinguished companies have contributed in 2021 to improving the access of refugees and migrants to the labor market and have supported their integration into society.
Convoy-World AD, a leading manufacturer and distributor of household goods with a production base, was awarded in the category of sustainable commitment to refugee and migrant workers. The company has been hiring asylum seekers and third-country nationals for more than 5 years. In addition to working as a socially responsible employer, Convoy provides address, housing and comprehensive support with other necessary services such as enrollment in kindergarten, GP and others.
In the category of green jobs for third-country nationals, the award went to Franciscup. The company, which employs three Afghans, recycles and trades starters and alternators.
In the category “employer with regard to mothers and women” the award was given to Angel Baby Ltd. – a manufacturer of children’s clothing. In 2021, Angel Baby Ltd. has hired 3 women from Afghanistan and Yemen and is about to open 2 more jobs for vulnerable women.
The prize in the category “combining work and study” was awarded to Ortotech Ltd., which is the largest Bulgarian manufacturer of orthopedic medical devices. At the moment, Ortotech employs two citizens of Afghanistan, to whom the company provides on-the-job training and the opportunity to combine the work process with Bulgarian language courses.
In the “teamwork” category, the award went to TerraStone, which imports and distributes granite tiles, floor ceramics and more. TerraStone employs three people from Syria who receive full support and acceptance from their team.