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Representatives of UNICEF visited the only crisis centre for unaccompanied foreign and refugee children in Bulgaria

Thursday, 25 May 2023

Representatives of UNICEF and the State Secretariat for Migration of the Swiss Confederation visited the only Crisis Centre in Bulgaria for unaccompanied foreign children and refugee children at risk, managed by the Ruse Municipality.

The visit to Ruse is part of the monitoring visit of the State Secretariat for Migration of the Swiss Confederation to Bulgaria and Romania, as part of the partnership with UNICEF on the project "Improving the support and integration, care and protection systems for refugee and migrant children in EU countries".

During the meeting, the Deputy Mayor Encho Enchev and the Director of the Humanitarian Directorate Katya Petrova discussed with the guests a number of issues related to improving the cooperation of institutions and civil society organizations at local, regional and national level. It was attended by Alexander Schwalen – Director of Financial Programs at the Secretary of State for Migration, Matthew Buyard and Orelli Hadid – Advisers at the Financial Programs Directorate at the Secretary of State for Migration of the Swiss Confederation, and representatives of UNICEF – Guzal Kamalova – Program Director "Child Protection", Regional Office, Dani Koleva – Program Director "Child Protection" and Lora Voynova – Program Coordinator.

The leadership of Ruse Municipality briefed the guests on the organization of the administration's outreach work from March 2022 to welcome, accommodate and support Ukrainian citizens displaced by the hostilities. The topic of the 24-hour duty of employees and volunteers in the Support Center for Ukrainian citizens opened by the Municipality of Ruse at the Central Railway Station, as well as the field duty at the BCP - Danube Bridge was raised.

In view of the frequent cases of detention of unaccompanied foreign children at the Ruse border and the lack of a suitable service for their accommodation, the Ruse Municipality took action to open a new social service. The Crisis Centre for Unaccompanied Alien and Refugee Children at Risk is a state-delegated activity with a capacity of 16 children, which started functioning on 1 November 2022.
The deputy mayor shared the difficulties, challenges and approaches that the team applies to users. The staff aims to ensure maximum conditions for the protection of the rights and interests of the children and to achieve the ultimate goal - their reunification with their biological families, in accordance with the Child Protection Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The foreign guests were impressed by the conditions in the Crisis Centre, as well as the positive attitude of the children, which is the result of the work of the team of the service, as well as of all authorities and systems at the local level.

The representatives of UNICEF and the State Secretariat for Migration of the Swiss Confederation highly appreciated the experience and good practice of Ruse Municipality in the field of social services and work with foreign citizens.

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