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Bulgaria is a peaceful country with an important geopolitical place in the Balkans.

protection, health, disaster management

Types of stakeholders

NGO in general

There are both state actors and NGOs in Bulgaria. Usually, the state actors interact well with each other.

National Red Cross Society

In 1878, the year of liberation of Bulgaria from the ‘Ottoman Yoke’, the Bulgarian Red Cross was established. In 1885 it became part of the ICRC Movement. The organisation firstly delivered medical aid to the wounded in the Balkan wars, WW1 and WW2, many hospitals were also built. Nationally the BRC helped the population after serious earthquakes, today it teaches first aid courses delivered to citizens and schools. It also covers disaster management, mountain rescue, water lifesaving, refugee-migrant service, and other international activity.

Armed Forces

During the period between 1878 and 2013 the Bulgarian Army played an important role in helping the population during wars, disasters and crises.

State humanitarianism

Ministries or state agencies involved

The Ministry of Interior; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the State Agency for Refugees; the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy; and the Ministry of Healthcare are representatives of the state’s humanitarianism.


There are difficulties in interaction between small NGOs and state actors which have been observed, this was evident recently during the last humanitarian crisis with Syrian refugees in Bulgaria.

Specific roles of international organisations

United Nations

UNHCR office in Bulgaria was established in 1992 by virtue of an agreement between the UNHCR and the Republic of Bulgaria. UNHCR in Bulgaria cooperates with the authorities and civil organizations which work directly or indirectly on protection of refugees and supports further development of the national system for protection within a constantly developing common European system for asylum.

The UNHCR’s role is to support, consult and advocate, in partnership with the governments and NGOs, in order to provide an effective access of asylum seekers to the territory of the EU and procedures for provision of asylum; constant monitoring and improvement of conditions of life of asylum seekers in acceptance centers and other places for refugees;  fair and effective procedures for refugee status in compliance with the international legal standards; and finally finding of durable solutions through effective policies for integration and resettlement.

Specific focus

Civil Protection

In 1878 the first local fire brigades were established which grew in number during the following decades. The voluntary fire brigades were cut in number after 1990 due to the new political and financial environment (the "Transition" period).


Specific expertise


Current trends in humanitarian work are related to refugees’ crises, integration of migrants, poverty, natural disasters (i.e. floods, earthquakes), and human rights.


Humanitarian Education

Higher education

There is a space for a programme in humanitarian action which the project team from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” has identified and has begun working on in order to solve fragmentation and organisational issues in the field.

In-house training

The Bulgarian Red Cross trains its members and volunteers. Each NGO conducts its own training for its employees and volunteers.

Specialised organisations

There are some specialised programs in HA delivered by the National Defence Academy, the Academy of the Ministry of Interior or the Military Medical Academy.

Seminar/short courses

DISASTER PREVENTION AND CONSEQUENCE MANAGEMENT and “CIVIL PROTECTION/EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT” are both one week intensive courses held by the “G.S. Rakovski” National Defence Academy. Entry requirements for the aforementioned are at least a bachelor’s degree for the former and a master’s degree for the latter.


Bulgarian Red Cross: http://en.redcross.bg [Accessed: 12th May 2014];

The Ministry of Interior, General Directorate Fire Safety and Protection of Population (2014). Historical reference. Available from: http://www.nspbzn.mvr.bg/Za_NSPBZN/History/default.htm [Accessed: 12th May 2014];

“G.S. Rakovski” National Defence Academy (2014). Programmes and Courses. Available from: http://rum33code.net/md/EN/About/Kursove/index.php [Accessed: 12th May 2014]


Dr. Plama Hristova
Sofia University

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