Created on Tuesday, 17 January 2023 10:00
Since its start in October 2021 the Bureau for Information and Services for Third Country Nationals has been open to every foreign citizen, who needs assistance with information or different kinds of services regarding their integration and way of living in Bulgaria. Almost a year and a half later, the center can proudly announce remarkable results in regard to its services towards third-country nationals who have sought help from the specialists there.
Since October 2021, the bureau has been visited nearly 1,500 times (1,150 in the first year alone) by refugees and migrants seeking information or various types of services. On average, more than 100 people cross the threshold of the center per month, seeking assistance. This is shown in a REPORT ON THE ASSESSMENT OF THE CENTER'S ACTIVITIES SINCE ITS START IN 2021. The most requested services during this period are related accompaniment to various institutions, legal assistance, referral to other organizations, as well as financial assistance.
The average assessment of the bureau's work by its users is excellent - they rate the service received with 4.5 on a 5-point system, and the attitude and competence of the staff receives an enviable rating of 4.7.
The Bureau's online platforms are also enjoying a large interest – with over 1,500 unique users and a total of over 2,200 visits in the first year, the service center's website is an online center for help and assistance to foreign nationals.
Visitors' recommendations for improving the work of the office are related to the presence of more employees in the center, more opportunities to accompany refugees and migrants to different institutions, health, school facilities and others, as well as more frequent offering of legal aid as traditionally the most requested service.
The Bureau of Information and Services for Third Country Nationals continues its activities in the new year, looking for new ways to help refugees and migrants with services and information to help with their integration and way of living.
The bureau’s program for January is accessible here.
The bureau and its activities are a part of the CONNECTION project: CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration action, that is co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. It was established and has been operating since October last year with the joint efforts of the Sofia Municipality, Sofia Development Association, Bulgarian Red Cross, with the support of Pazari Vazrazhdane and UNHCR, co-financed by the EU through the AMIF.
Created on Thursday, 05 January 2023 12:25
For the bureau the new year began the same way the old one ended – with more and more ways to help third country nationals, migrants and refugees. In December 2022, the bureau was visited by a total of 84 people. Legal consultations continue to be among the most sought-after service, along with socialconsultations. In December, there was also an increase in the number of people interested in studying the Bulgarian language.
On the official website of the bureau, a program is offered every month, in which the various services are described by days and hours. The content of this program is in several languages: Bulgarian, English, French, Ukrainian, Russian, Arabic and Persian.
Our statistics show that the site has been visited by more than 2,200 people in the last year and these people have been engaged with the posts and content more than 16,000 times.
Here you can see the program for the month of January:
- You can find the program for January in Bulgarian HERE.
- You can find the program for January in Ukrainian HERE.
- You can find the program for January in English HERE.
- You can find the program for January in French HERE.
- You can find the program for January in Russian HERE.
- You can find the program for January in Arabic HERE.
- You can find the program for January in Farsi HERE.
Happy New Year to everyone!
CONNECTION project: CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration action, is co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.
Created on Friday, 16 December 2022 10:41
On December 15, the annual Awards for Responsible Employers of Refugees and Migrants took place at SofiaLab, the capital's youth innovation laboratory. Partners in the event were Sofia Municipality, Sofia Development Association, Caritas Sofia, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and "Za Dobroto" Foundation.
The awards brought together representatives of business, the non-governmental sector and institutions for an evening of appreciation for employers with a contribution to the integration, employment and support of refugees and migrants. The host of the event was Sevdalina Voinova, program director of Sofia Development Association. Svetlana Lomeva, executive director of the organization, presented the first two prizes on behalf of Georgi Georgiev, chairperson of Sofia Muniipal Council - to Henkel Bulgaria and Overgas. The two companies were honored for significant donations to the integration of refugees.
"In these difficult times it is important to help, we are happy about the partnership with NGOs and the opportunity to work with them," said Desislava Ilieva from Henkel, and Vladislava Shalamanova from Overgas added: "This award gives us confidence and energy to work together, then things work out."
Iva Partsaleva, representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, presented prizes to two other deserving companies – Terrastone and Lidl Bulgaria for their active work with refugees, including the hiring and training of many migrants, as well as providing assistance for their accommodation in Bulgaria. "Thank you for the award, thank you for the partnership with the non-governmental organizations that support responsible employers. We want to integrate refugees and from the beginning we offer training, housing support, all the way in their work. We remain open to cooperation in the future as well," said Raya Tsvetkova from Lidl Bulgaria.
Tsvetomir Dumanov, director of Caritas Sofia, had the pleasant task of presenting prizes to three companies - Samex, Fransizkup and Sament Engineering. The companies were recognized for their ongoing commitment to working with refugees and migrants, their talent development programs and their first job opportunities for unaccompanied youth. "We are very happy with the cooperation we have established. We expect to build on this partnership next year, we learn from all of you," said Svetoslav Stoychev, regional manager of the company that operates KFC and NORDSEE restaurants in Bulgaria.
Maria Mihailova from "Za Dobroto" Foundation also presented three prizes for deserving employers - the awards went to Bulgarian Burger, "Berezka" and ABC Pharma for their continued efforts to provide decent pay and a good environment to third-country nationals with refugee status and migrants. In the words of Natalia Mantya from "Berezka", "We would like everyone in our team to feel good together, to understand each other."
The awards also marked the beginning of a comprehensive network of private companies, institutions, and non-governmental organizations whose main goal will be the integration and support of refugees and migrants through the country's labor market.
The awards are also part of the activities of the Bureau of Information and Services for Foreign Citizens, which was established and has been operating since October last year with the joint efforts of the Sofia Municipality, Sofia Development Association, Bulgarian Red Cross, with the support of Pazari Vazrazhdane and UNHCR, co-financed by the EU through the AMIF.
CONNECTION project: CONNECTING Cities Towards Integration action, is co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.
Created on Thursday, 15 December 2022 12:25
After three years of good cooperation and exchanges among 18 partners including trade unions, local and regional authorities, civil society organisations, research institutes, the project UMN is coming to an end. The final event which took place on 13-14 December in Brussels, gathered representatives of the project partners, local and national authorities, trade unions, civil society organizations, EU-level institutions. The conference provided a venue for exchange on successful local migrants and refugees’ integration practices, mobilizing stakeholders working on migrants and refugees’ integration, facilitating the access of information and services to migrants, and planning joint actions and future cooperation.
Representatives of SDA and CITUB, the two Bulgarian partners in UMN, attended the conference and presented the results and outputs of the project in Bulgaria. The project was an opportunity for SDA to build a local coalition of employers and civil society organizations to support the integration of third-country nationals in the labor market. The legacy of this coalition is instrumental for all future initiatives of SDA and Sofia Municipality for the economic, social, and cultural integration of third-country nationals in the city.
UMN project co-funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.
Created on Thursday, 15 December 2022 10:00
Ms. Yordanka Fandakova, Mayor of Sofia Municipality, and Ms. Seda Kuzudzu, the new representative for Bulgaria of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, held a meeting on December 14, 2022. They discussed the situation with refugees, asylum seekers and stateless people in Sofia, the pressing problems, and challenges, as well as the efforts of each country for a better response to the refugee crisis and for more effective integration.
Ms. Fandakova and Ms. Kuzudzu outlined the areas in which UNHCR and Sofia can cooperate. Among them are training of volunteers to work in emergency situations with refugees, inclusion of appropriate events in the programs of the municipal cultural institutes, training in the Bulgarian language and others. The mayor and the representative of the UN Refugee Agency agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding early next year.
In the coming year, Sofia Development Association will be a beneficiary of UNHCR on behalf of the Sofia Municipality, in order to work to increase the awareness and readiness of the society to integrate migrants and refugees.
Created on Wednesday, 14 December 2022 10:00
SDA continues to support the labor integration of third-country nationals in Sofia. Since November, SDA has teamed up with the NGO Arms Wide Open to offer a free business language course in Bulgarian to migrants in the city. Classes are held online and will continue until February 2023. The business language course will be followed by a financial literacy course, set to begin later in 2023. The language training is part of the activities under the AMIF-funded project PLOUTOS, which is coordinated by Halmstadt University in Sweden.
Language training is one of the key enabling factors for migrant integration, and both job seekers and employers underline the need to expand the opportunities for Bulgarian language training in Sofia. We are glad to be part of the solution and will continue our efforts to build a welcoming environment for migrants in the city. We are also proud to announce that for the second year in a row SDA, together with Sofia Municipality, UNHCR, Caritas Bulgaria, and Za Dobroto foundation will honor local employers which offer jobs, training and housing to refugees. The award ceremony will be held on 15th December at 4 p.m. in SofiaLab. The event will be broadcasted on SofiaLab’s Facebook page.
This project is funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.