Life’s no holiday at Sunny Beach.
Sunny Beach is usually empty this time of year. A favourite destination for young people desperately seeking a good time at a knock-down price, the resort town on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast offers cheap accommodation, cheap alcohol and lots of sun, but is normally quiet until the beginning of May, when the summer season begins. But this year Sunny Beach has been full since March, when the government opened the hotels for Ukrainian refugees.
There is a hint of another sort of desperation among the women crowding the door of the humanitarian aid distribution centre. They need baby food, nappies, toiletries and other basic items. There may not be enough to go round. Their means are severely limited, and they are dependent on the kindness of others to help them find the items they need that are not being provided by the authorities. The war has taken their home, their men, and wants their dignity too.
Today a van-load of necessities has arrived, with donations of clothing from Germany and, thanks to FSCI’s supporters, some nappies, feminine hygiene products and toiletries. The items are quickly distributed to the group of women that reacted to the unexpected distribution. The crowd will be much bigger tomorrow when there will be a scheduled delivery.
Every summer Ukrainians come by the coach load to places like Sunny Beach for their holidays. A time to build good memories with family or friends, enjoy the sun and the warm sea. Now this places feels like a cruel trap. Families split apart, money all gone or going fast. No way of knowing how they will make ends meet, uncertainty about where they will even sleep now that the Bulgarian government has declared that refugees have to move out of the hotels to make way for holiday-makers. And the question that burns at the back of people’s minds, over and over – When can we go home..?