172,726 CHF has been allocated from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Bulgarian Red Cross Society in delivering immediate assistance to approximately 2,000 beneficiaries. Unearmarked funds to repay DREF are encouraged.
Summary: Since August 2013, the flow of asylum seekers from Syria to Bulgaria has increased rapidly up to more than 5,100 persons registered at 30 September 2013.
The crisis that has been evolving since the beginning of August 2013 has greatly challenged the existing Bulgarian state mechanisms and support to the asylum seekers, as well as the additional assistance channels of the UNHCR, the Bulgarian Red Cross, NGOs and citizens, including the Syrian community in Bulgaria.
On 30 September 2013, all functioning accommodation centres, managed by the government have exceeded the limits of their capacity.
On the stocks, there is a lack of food and non-food items including clothes, shoes, beds, and bed linen for the newcomers. Some facilities lack hot water, which in combination with bad hygiene conditions and overcrowding of the living premises creates epidemic risks for the people accommodated. There is also a lack of medicines, difficult access to medical care and disinfectants, specific needs of infants and children (diapers, baby milk, etc.) and other basic items. Most of the asylum seekers settled in the accommodation centres, majority of whom are Syrians, are facing great difficulties to manage their living, having depleted their own resources on the long way to asylum, while the facilities and services in Bulgaria are struggling with the rapidly increasing inflow of asylum seekers.
Following the sharp increase of the asylum seekers in Bulgaria and on the basis of a request from the Government, the Bulgarian RCS announced a national fundraising campaign on 18 September 2013 in support for the refugees, collecting funds through SMS, online and bank transfers and cash donations. The Bulgarian RCS collected for and distributed at the accommodation centres of the State Agency for Refugees and at the facilities of the Ministry of Interior near the border with Turkey a variety of needed relief items from public and private donations and from its own disaster relief stock: including food, clothes for adults and children, socks, diapers for infants and children, beds, mattresses, bed linen, blankets, disinfectants, mattresses, pillows, towels, toys, tableware and other important items.
In line with its auxiliary role to the State and in response to the request from the Government, the Bulgarian Red Cross approached the IFRC for a DREF allocation to respond to the needs of the asylum seekers in Bulgaria. In the period between 24 and 26 September 2013, a joint team with the participation of the Disaster Management Coordinator of the IFRC Europe Zone Office and Bulgarian RC staff carried out a field assessment in all centres and facilities accommodating asylum seekers in Bulgaria.
Resulting from the needs assessment, the Bulgarian Red Cross has identified 1,500 beneficiaries, who urgently need assistance, 1,000 of whom settled in the two accommodation centres in Sofia and 500 people who stay from 24 hours to 5 days in the facilities of the Ministry of Interior near the borders with Turkey, while waiting their asylum requests to be processed and further transportation to accommodation centres.
The major needs of the asylum seekers include food, warm clothes, blankets and bed linen, hygiene materials and diapers, disinfectants, and information on asylum procedures, RFL, hygiene promotion, etc.
This operation is expected to be implemented over four months, and will be completed by 3rd February 2014; a Final Report will be made available three months after the end of the operation (by 3rd May 2014).
The DREF operation is part of the Plan of Action of the Bulgarian Red Cross to assist the asylum seekers in Bulgaria (including mid-term and longer term activities), which will be also supported through its national fundraising campaign.