According to the Asylum Act, asylum seekers located at the border or in detention centres have the right to be counselled and assisted by a representative from non-governmental Romanian or foreign organisations and to contact and receive assistance from an official of UNHCR at any stage of the asylum procedure.
During the state of emergency some of the JRS representatives were present in the regional centres 2 or 3 days per week, while others were present everyday. When they were not present in the centre asylum seekers could contact them by the phone or whatsapp.
During the state of alert most of them are present in the centres everyday.
Some of the NGOs shortened their schedule in the regional centre, but they were present everyday. Other NGOs have 2 days of teleworking per week.
On 9 July 2021, the Romanian National Council for Refugees (CNRR) reported that “in relation to asylum seekers taken into public custody the access to legal assistance services is granted within the framework of an agreement between the General Inspectorate for Immigration and CNRR which applies to each and every case of person taken into public custody who files for the very first time an asylum application”.
In practice, asylum seekers located at the border have difficulties in accessing NGO services and assistance. Access depends on whether the Border Police or IGI-DAI inform the NGOs of the presence of asylum seekers at the border-crossing check points. In relation to asylum seekers detained in detention centres, access to such services is not systematically ensured as NGOs, namely CNRR, do not have regular office hours in these centres.
In cases of asylum seekers accommodated outside the reception centres, access to NGOs is determined by the information, which was provided to them by the authorities and NGOs, if they exchanged contact details.
UNHCR Romania is contacted by the asylum seekers accommodated in one of the Regional Centres through their implementing partner JRS or directly via email, phone or walk-in interviews at its office.