National Network for Children expressed a position on the military aggression of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Ukraine. We sent our opinion in an official letter to the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Ambassador of Ukraine and the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Bulgaria.
We in the National Network for Children strongly condemn the military aggression carried out by the Russian Federation on the territory of the sovereign and independent Republic of Ukraine, and call for an immediate cessation of hostilities.
The ongoing war, started unilaterally by the Russian Federation, grossly violates international law, while directly violating and threatening the rights and freedoms of the citizens of the Ukrainian state. Absolutely inadmissible and unjustifiable is the military attack on a sovereign state and the use of weapons against civilians, including children.
Against the backdrop of ongoing hostilities, Europe is also on the brink of a humanitarian crisis and catastrophe due to the wave of refugees caused by hostilities in cities and against civilian sites and citizens. The deteriorating meteorological situation in the coming weeks, as well as some ambiguities in the legislation regarding Ukrainian citizens arriving in Bulgaria, including children and Bulgarian citizens with dual citizenship, are a prerequisite for deepening the personal tragedy of thousands of people.
So far, the organization of reception and accommodation of refugees in Bulgaria is taken over mainly by volunteers who communicate with each other through social media and build networks to support, provide food, clothing, medicine and accommodation for women and children arriving in Bulgaria from different parts of Ukraine.
We call on the Bulgarian state to support with all its resources the people of Ukraine who have reached our border and are seeking asylum, with special attention to the protection of children, pregnant women and mothers who are particularly vulnerable and at risk of violence, trafficking, health and mental suffering, poverty and social exclusion.
We demand that the responsible institutions – the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, the State Agency for Child Protection, the Social Assistance Agency and the State Agency for Refugees, to come up with coordinated action plans and strategies for support and integration of third-country nationals and Bulgarians with dual citizenship arriving in Bulgaria, including:
- ensuring safe movement and protection from all forms of violence, including human trafficking and extortion;
- providing fast-track procedures for obtaining refugee status or obtaining documents for the families of people with dual citizenship;
- providing legal assistance, including by setting up a hotline and referring to volunteer groups of lawyers;
- providing adequate housing in partnership with municipalities and the private sector;
- providing health care for all children, pregnant women and mothers, including: treatment and follow-up of acute and chronic conditions and diseases; prevention and follow-up of pregnant women; monitoring the development and prevention of newborns and children up to 1 year; prevention of children from 1 to 18 years; providing support for breastfeeding and healthy eating of children; provision of specific medicines, medical devices and food if necessary – guaranteeing free access for children and pregnant women by changing the regulatory restrictions for foreign citizens, refugees and the uninsured;
- Extensive information campaign among general practitioners and medical institutions of pre-hospital and hospital care, including through a hotline for referring citizens to the relevant institutions where they can receive health care;
- organizing a volunteer group of pediatricians and obstetricians who can take over the long-term follow-up of pregnant women and young children;
- providing protection and placement in foster families of unaccompanied children and children whose parents are unknown at the time of their entry into Bulgaria, including orphans;
- development of a strategy for educational work with children in the form of specialized courses and / or inclusion in the educational system;
- development of short-term methodological guidelines from the Ministry of Education and Science and Regional education departments to schools and teachers in support of the challenge of how to talk to children about the war, especially if there are children of Ukrainian, Russian or Belarusian origin in schools / classes;
- providing psychological help and support for children and adults, including by opening a telephone line, counseling points and referral to established volunteer groups of specialists.
National Network for Children calls for an immediate end to the invasion of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Ukraine and for action to ensure peace, health and security of Ukrainian citizens, as well as the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Ukraine.
In addition, we consider it Bulgaria’s duty to provide the most sparing conditions possible for the people of Ukraine and other conflict-affected countries seeking salvation from the war, and we hope that our government will uphold shared global values and principles of peace and prosperity for all human beings.