Monitoring of the implementation of the National Program for the Integration of Refugees in Bulgaria in 2013

    Zvezda Vankova
    Bulgarian Council on Refugees and Migrants

    The objective of the report is to make an analysis of the implementation of the National Program for the Integration of Refugees in the Republic of Bulgaria (NPIRRB) in 2014, and to put forward some recommendations based on the challenges and best practices identified.

    The findings from the monitoring show that actions have been taken with respect to most of the measures laid down in the NPIRRB1. Some of the measures are no longer topical, which has determined the management of the Integration Centre (IC) with SAR to no longer deliver on them, and others overlap.

    The main challenges in the NPIRRB implementation are, as follows:

    • The short duration of the Program, which in most cases covers a 6-month period after granting the status, is assessed as insufficient by the participants in the Program;
    • The insufficient financial assistance and the delayed payment of the benefits, which explains why most of the newly recognized refugees either seek a job instead of availing themselves of the NPIRRB support or often drop from the Program after finding employment;
    • The lack of flexibility in terms of both the scope of the Program and the delivery of the measures included in it. In 2013 the activities for providing support to newly recognized refugees were carried out on the territory of the city of Sofia, instead of covering the whole country, as foreseen in the NPIRRB. No specialized measures were applied to target vulnerable individuals;
    • The implementation of the Program is not sufficiently secured in terms of financial and resource provision, which has unfavourably impacted the delivery of some important and topical measures for refugees’ integration. Such measures are vocational trainings in computer skills, social orientation and cultural adaptation, seminars with stakeholders’ staff, medical doctors and dentists, teachers, and anti-discrimination activities.. While the financial estimates for 2013 include costs for the remuneration of a lecturer under the Social Orientation and Cultural Adaptation module, for Bulgarian language courses under individual programs, vocational training courses outside SAR, study visits to historic and cultural sites across the country, kindergarten fees, the relevant funds have not been provided to SAR’s IC, which has made the implementation impossible. The one-off financial aid due in the fourth month following the enrolment in the NPIRRB have not been paid, neither have the families with children enrolled in the first grade at a state or a municipal school received the one-off target aid.

    On the basis of the interviews and the analyses of the delivery of the integration measures, it can be concluded that the goal set in the NPIRRB: “each and every refugee, in the course of up to one year after being granted refugee status, should have access to financial support for housing, social assistance, health insurance, Bulgarian language training, social orientation and cultural adaptation, vocational training, translation/interpretation services, and facilitating the exercise of basic rights and opportunities” has not been fully achieved.