Rehabilitation for those who suffered the armed conflict in East Ukraine is organised in Bulgaria with help of diplomacy and all-mighty Ukrainian civil activists.
Since the spring 2014 about 400 Ukrainian children and 40 wounded military have visited Bulgaria. “The children underwent rehabilitation supported by the Embassy [of Ukraine to Bulgaria]. There were several groups that consisted of 30 children of activists killed in Maidan, and two projects initiated by the Embassy,” informed Mykola Baltazhy, Ambassador of Ukraine to Bulgaria (via Skype) at Ukraine Crisis Media Center within the project “Spokesperson of peaceful life” supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany. The trips were organized in cooperation with the Committee for IDPs, ICO “Protecting Children of Chernobyl,” MP Natalia Veselova, social policy ministries of both countries, municipalities of Primorsko, Kiten, Smolyan, and the Union of Ukrainians in Bulgaria as well as its centres.
In the summer of 2016, more than 160 children spent their holidays there
This year’s holiday for children of late Ukrainian military was organized by NGO “Narodnyi Tyl” with the assistance of the centres of Ukrainian diaspora in Bulgaria and the Embassy of Ukraine to Bulgaria. “This year thanks to our sponsor we have sent 3 groups consisting of 163 children and their mothers to Bulgaria,” informed Svitlana Bakhvalova, NGO “Narodnyi Tyl.” The Wind Rose Aviation Company carried all three groups of children to Bulgaria and back to Ukraine free of charge, and the association “Balkan Sich” helped solve domestic issues. “We toured Sozopol and Nesebar. Our impressions were unforgettable. For me it was the first opportunity to be on holiday with my children,” noted Zoryana Kuzmina, wife of the deceased soldier fallen in the East Ukraine combat actions, mother of two children.
In 2016, 20 military have undergone treatment and rehabilitation; another group is starting in November.
Treatment and rehabilitation for the military are organized by joint efforts of the Embassy and the Ministries of Defense of Ukraine and Bulgaria with financial support of consuls in the cities of Burgas, Ruse and Plovdiv. “Over 2015-2016 we have taken 38 Ukrainian military for rehabilitation; 18 persons – last year and 20 – this year. In late November, another group of 10 military will arrive,” informed Mykola Baltazhy. “Bulgaria is among countries that take the largest number of our military for treatment. This is kind of public diplomacy, because thus we can convey what is really happening in Ukraine to the world,” noted Oksana Gavrylyuk, Head of Communications and Press, Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
“Although this is modest help, it is within our power. We intend to continue these projects next year,” noted Mykola Baltazhy.
According to Oksana Gavrylyuk, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine has established a new department to deal with coordination of travels for treatment and rehabilitation and “hence we will be able to work more effectively in this direction,” she noted.
Mykola Baltazhy added that the Ukrainian diaspora in Bulgaria has launched many initiatives aimed at providing humanitarian aid and assistance for the army. For example, due to the joint efforts of the consul and diaspora in Plovdiv 100 thousand disposable bottles of shampoos were collected for the military in combat area, half of them have already been transferred to Ukraine.