The previous update was published in May 2022.
- Access to the territory: There was a significant decrease (over 60%) of the migratory pressure at the border with Serbia in 2022, although the statistics from the last few months of 2022 from the relevant European agencies indicated continuously increasing migratory pressure in the Western Balkans region. The Border Police explained this phenomenon as result of securing vulnerable border areas and increasing response capacity, including FRONTEX support (374 representatives, of whom 239 operate on the ground and the rest on the Danube River), acting in collaboration with the Serbian border authorities to prevent the illegal crossing of migrants from the neighbouring country. Thus, in 2022, 27,524 people were prevented from entering the country, a 63.6% decrease compared to 2021. According to the Border Police, interpretation at the border to provide asylum information is still lacking. Asylum seekers complained about ill treatment by Border Police /Gendarmerie officers at the border.
- Return to Serbia: In 2022, Romania continued to return persons to Serbia based on the readmission agreement. The Timişoara Border Police Territorial Inspectorate (ITPF Timişoara) representative stated that 685 persons were returned to Serbia based on the readmission agreement in 2022, by the institution.
- Asylum seekers: the number of asylum seekers increased by 28,9% in 2022 with 12,368 new asylum applications registered, compared to 9,591 in 2021. However, the highest number of applicants was Ukrainians (4,398 applications), which were later assessed under the temporary protection provisions. 268 unaccompanied children were registered in 2022, compared to 1,551 registered in 2021.
- Interpretation: The availability of interpretation for rare languages remained an issue.
- Videoconferencing: interviews and court hearings were held through videoconference.
- Accelerated procedure: the number of asylum applications assessed in accelerated procedures further increased in 2022 to 2,306 compared to 1,968 in 2021, 885 in 2020, and 315 in 2019.
- Integration programme: In 2022, 795 beneficiairies of international protection were enrolled in the integration programme.
- Cessation and review of protection status: In 2022, the number of cessation decisions doubled compared to 2021 from 34 to 70. Also six withdrawal decisions were issued.
- Material reception conditions: as of 27 February 2022, the amount of the monthly financial allowance granted to asylum seekers doubled from 480 RON / €95 to 960 RON/ €195.
- Reception conditions: In 2022 the hygienic conditions improved in the centres visited by the author, more specifically Timisoara and Giurgiu centres. As for the other centres, the Romanian Ombudsman’s reports described the hygienic conditions as inadequate or deterioted in Radauti, Somcuta Mare and Tudor Gociu. Renovation works were still pending in in Bucharest, in the Vasile Stolnicu regional centre but had been finalized in Timişoara. Due to the renovation work in the Vasile Stolnicu centre (Bucharest) the total capacity of the centres was reduced from 1,100 places to 860 places (790 open places and 70 closed places). The construction works destined to increase the number of accommodation places in the regional centres of Timişoara and Rădăuţi were suspended.
- Specially designed closed spaced: In 2022, three asylum seekers were placed in specially designed places. In two of the cases the measure was an order because they were considered a threat to national security.
- Reception conditions in detention: The construction of another facility in Arad was not finalised at the time of the author’s visit on 16 March 2023.
Detention of Asylum Seekers
- Transfer from Timişoara: As in previous years, applicants were transferred from Timişoara to other Regional Centres due to limited capacity. Starting from April 2022 around 70-80% of asylum seekers were transferred to other centres within two to three days of their arrival. As of June 2022, by order of the general inspector of IGI, all asylum seekers from Timişoara centre were transferred.
- Chain of transfers from one accommodation centre to another: From June 2022 until 25 February 2023, another order of the general inspector of IGI was given to transfer asylum seekers from one regional centre to another to hinder contact with smugglers. The transfer procedure was described by the director of Galati centre as follows:
Asylum seekers were transferred from the centre where the asylum claim was made within a maximum of three days; in the next centre the preliminary interview was conducted within another three days; in seven days from the arrival in the second centre, the asylum seeker was transferred to a third centre where the personal interview was conducted. After a maximum of seven days the person was again transferred to a fourth centre where the decision was communicated. If the decision was not issued and communicated within seven days, the applicant was subject to another transfer. This chain of transfers stopped when an administrative decision was issued as the appeal is assessed by the Regional Court with jurisdiction in the locality where the regional centre is located.
The information given hereafter constitute a short summary of the 2022 Report on Temporary Protection, for further information, see Annex on Temporary Protection .
- Key temporary protection statistics: In 2022, 3,179,309 Ukrainian nationals entered Romania and a further 3,073,467 left the country within the year. As of 31 December 2022, a total of 101,706 individuals had registered for temporary protection in Romania, including 60,935 women, 40,141 men, and 34,741 minors, out of which 773 are unaccompanied minors. 1,036 persons registered for temporary protection are non-Ukrainian nationals, including 354 Russians and 292 Moldovans.
Temporary protection procedure
- Scope: between March and September 2022 the scope of persons eligible to temporary protection in Romania was similar to that of the EU Council decision. The scope was broadened in September 2022 to include all Ukrainian nationals regardless of when they arrived in Romania and ther family members, all persons benefitting from international protection or equivalent national protection in Ukraine before 24 February 2022 regardless of when they arrived in Romania and their family members.
- One-stop centres: to facilitate displaced persons’ access to response services, one-stop centres were established to provide the comprehensive set of support services to displaced persons, from registration to distribution of first need items to information and counselling.
- Information provision: a web support and information platform available in several languages was created by an NGO in partnership with the authorities, international organisations and a bank. The government also instituted a separate information website. UN organisations set up a call centre to provide information on rights and services available to persons displaced from Ukraine. The CNRR also organised community consultations, and assistance was provided by NGOs.
Content of temporary protection
- Residence permit: persons are issued a residence permit including a personal identification number, necessary to access many public services in Romania. It is valid for the entire period of application of the EU Council Decisions, meaning it is automatically renewed and does not require anything from the beneficiary on this front.
- Access to asylum: beneficiaries of temporary protection may lodge an asylum application at any time, and it will be examined by the authorities. In case it is denied, they continue to benefit from temporary protection. 4,398 Ukrainian nationals lodged an asylum claim between 24 February and 31 December 2022.
- Housing: most beneficiaries of temporary protection live in private accommodation in host communities. The government instituted the ‘50/20’ programme, which foresees RON 50 (EUR 10) / person / day provided for accommodation and RON 20 (EUR 4) / person /day for food, to be distributed to the hosting person/family. These come as monthly cash payments. In October 2022, 70% of respondents to a survey benefitted from this programme. Approximately 7,700 persons lived in government managed accommodation centres.
- Access to the labour market: temporary protection beenficiaries have full access to the labour market. According to the ANOFM National Employment Services by the end of December 2022, a total of 1,357 Ukrainians had registered to receive employment assistance services and 725 of those individuals registered in the system had earned and maintained an active formal employment contract.
- Access to education: children under 18 fleeing Ukraine have the right to education under the same conditions and with the same funding as Romanian pre-schoolers and school aged children. This includes free of charge accommodation in boarding schools, food allowance, the right to receive school supplies, clothing, footwear, textbooks. As of 16 December 2022, 4,008 Ukrainian children were officially enrolled in the national education system, 1,431 at pre-primary level, 1,331 at primary level, and 1,246 at secondary level. However, there are increasing concerns on the actual capacity of the Romanian education system to absorb and meet the educational needs of all Ukrainian refugee children and adults. It was also noted children dropped out due to the language barrier.
- Access to health care: beneficiaries of temporary protection benefit from medical services, medical supplies, medicines, medical devices and medical services included in the national curative health programmes, like Romanian citizens who are insured, without paying contributions to the social health insurance system, the personal contribution for the medicines granted in the outpatient treatment and with exemption from co-payment.