Bulgaria

How Covid-19 is affecting Bulgaria

  • On Friday March 20, Bulgaria’s parliament voted to allow the military to help curb the movement of people amid the coronavirus outbreak, with a mandate to use force if necessary, reports Reuters.
  • Special measures have been imposed on Roma neighbourhoods in several towns in southern Bulgaria. Thousands of Bulgarian Roma are said to have returned recently from Western Europe where, some fear, they may have contracted the coronavirus. “In Nova Zagora, Kazanluk and Sliven, where more than 50,000 Roma live, municipal authorities have introduced checkpoints to prevent people leaving Roma neighbourhoods in large groups,” Reuters reports.
  • Bulgaria banned access to city parks and restricted non-essential travel between cities and towns as of Saturday (March 21). Checkpoints are set up at entrances to and exits from major cities to ensure compliance. People will be allowed to travel only if this is essential and they must provide proof, reports the Sofia Globe.
  • Access to food shops and pharmacies for two hours in the morning is banned for people under 60 to allow the elderly and most vulnerable to buy medicines.

However, on Sunday March 22, it was reported that Bulgarian President Rumen Radev partially vetoed the state of emergency law, saying that the restrictions would increase anxiety and a sense of crisis among people already worried about Bulgaria’s lack of resources to deal with the virus, adding: ‘No battle is won through fear.’ A vote of at least 121 votes in the 240-seat parliament is needed to overturn the veto.

The current scheduled date for the State of Emergency to end is April 13.

Starting March 18, Bulgaria banned the entry of citizens from 15 countries which have been severely affected by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Schools and universities have been closed since March 13.

Greetings from Sarkis

Sarkis Ovanesyan, MWB Bulgaria manager since 2008, said, "The motto of the recently begun first-ever Bulgarian Presidency of the EU is ‘United We Stand Strong’. Unfortunately, our nation is divided. Most people suffer from lawlessness, corruption, criminality. Every fifth Bulgarian lives in poverty, every third lives with material deprivation. 

"As a result of the despair in the nation, more and more Bulgarians (young students and workers) are leaving the country in search of a better life. Thus, the population in Bulgaria continues to decrease with one of the fastest rates in Europe. The number of people employed in Bulgaria is less than the number of those that work abroad.

"Only God who is seated over the sun on the throne has the power to change the situation and He says, 'I am making everything new!' These words are trustworthy and true. Indeed, our hope is directed to Him who is the only one who could change the lives of everyone and who can seat us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

"Knowing this, Mission Without Borders in Bulgaria, through different projects, works to help and improve people’s lives, showing God’s love and giving them a hope. We praise God for His abundant blessings and mercies and we thank our supporters."

The poorest of the EU nations

When Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007, thousands of revellers celebrated on Sofia’s streets and there were high hopes for the nation’s future.

Sadly, over a decade later, Bulgaria remains the poorest of the EU nations, with 35% of the population living in poverty. Corruption, a weak judiciary and organised crime continue to hold the country back and hamper its economic prospects. The Centre for the Study of Democracy found that corruption in Bulgaria is at least three times higher than the EU average, with 150,000 bribes paid every month, across all sections of society.

The risk of poverty is much higher in rural areas and among the unemployed, but in-work poverty is also high. The average annual wage in Bulgaria was 1,949 euros in 2013 – the lowest in the EU. Life is often toughest among the Roma population, 40% of whom live below the poverty line. They face severe social and economic disadvantages, as well as widespread discrimination, with even the deputy prime minister convicted of hate speech in 2017. 

We work with families in southern Bulgaria, in Gotse Delchev and Krupnik and nearby villages, including many Roma, supporting them towards self-sufficiency. We provide educational and emotional support to vulnerable children in the hope of breaking the cycle of poverty.

In Sofia, there are many homeless people who have fallen through the cracks. Here we demonstrate the love of Christ through hot meals, shoes, clothes, medical care and sharing the gospel.

Sponsor a family in Bulgaria

130 families are supported in Bulgaria through our sponsorship programme

420 people living on the streets in Sofia regularly receive a hot meal thanks to our Street Mercy project

1,470 children were given a new backpack and school supplies to help support them with their studies

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