Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions

Romania

Country Report: Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions Last updated: 30/04/21

Author

Felicia Nica with support from JRS Romania Visit Website

Asylum seekers who do not have means of subsistence are entitled to reception conditions from the moment they have expressed their intention to apply for asylum until the completion of the asylum procedure and the expiry of their right to stay in Romania.[1] Asylum seekers have the right to stay in Romania until the expiration of a period of 15 days after the end of the asylum procedure, except when the asylum application was rejected after being examined in the accelerated procedure or in the border procedure, in this case the person is ordered to leave Romania as soon as the asylum procedure has been completed. Accelerated and border procedures are concluded from the date of delivery of the court’s decision if an appeal has been lodged, or from the expiration of the deadline for filing the appeal.[2] In the Dublin procedure the right to remain on the territory of Romania ceases on the date of the transfer.[3]

Subsequent applicants do not have the right to material reception conditions.[4]

At the time of submission of an application for material reception conditions and when ever necessary, IGI-DAI shall analyse the provision of material reception conditions on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the material and financial means possessed by the applicant.[5] If IGI-DAI finds that the applicant has the means to ensure an adequate standard of living and can contribute to the costs of material reception conditions and health care, it may suspend the granting of material reception conditions and may require reimbursement and impose future contribution to those costs.[6]

Although, according to the law, applicants are entitled to reception conditions from the moment they express the intention to seek asylum, in practice they are not accommodated in the reception centres until the asylum claim is registered.

 

Measures imposed during the pandemic

IGI-DAI reported that during the state of emergency (16 March- 14 May 2020) access of visitors and those who do not carry out activities in the regional centres was restricted. Granting permissions to leave the centre was suspended. It was recommended to limit the movement of people outside the regional centres for 2 hours per day per person only for grocery shopping and other emergencies.

During the state of alert (15 May-present) the movement of people outside the centre is still limited.[7]

Timișoara: during the state of emergency asylum seekers were allowed to exit the regional centre only 4h/day for grocery shopping. One person per room was nominated by the asylum seekers to do the grocery shopping for all the residents of that respective room. They were taken by car by IGI-DAI officers at grocery shopping, according to the JRS representative.

During the state of alert, from May to September they were allowed to exit the regional centre between 12 and 16 PM, according to JRS. Since September there are no more restrictions. However, according to the director of Timișoara Regional Centre, even though there are no more restrictions, asylum seekers are not granted permission to leave the centre.

Masks and disinfectant products were provided by UNHCR.

As of 21 November Serbia has been included on the list (called the ‘yellow list’) of countries at high risk of COVID-19 transmission, meaning that all those who cross the border into Romania from Serbia must be quarantined for 14 days. This had a major impact on the asylum seekers arriving from Serbia to Timișoara. In order to ensure their quarantine, they needed to be accommodated in a facility separate from the reception centre. Due to the lack of preparedness of authorities, asylum seekers which arrived in the following days had to sleep in front of the regional centre for 2 nights, according to the director of Timișoara Regional Centre. This was also echoed by the JRS representative, who stated that foreigners were sleeping in front of the centre on polystyrene, covered with blankets. During that period the temperature at night was dropping to zero degrees in Timișoara. After 2 days they were taken over by the Border Police and in 5 days they were quarantined.

The director of Timișoara Regional Centre stated for a press agency that they have no responsibilities in quarantining or isolating people. In addition, the law (136/2020 on the establishment of measures in the field of public health in situations of epidemiological and biological risk) has no implementing rules. The methodology rules were adopted only on 18 December 2020.[8] The director mentioned during the interview with the author that they notified the County Committee for Emergency Situations but received no answer. Subsequently he received an answer from the Directorate of Public Health (DSP) which did not reply to their request, stating that the quarantine of asylum seekers falls out of their duties and this is the responsibility of IGI-DAI. Unofficially it was communicated that they cannot be quarantined. Afterwards, at the persistence of the Border Police, the authorities finally decided that asylum seekers will be quarantined at the dorm of ‘Dimitrie Leonida’ Technological High School. The dorm has 150 places for accommodation. Each room has a bathroom. The conditions in the dorm were reported to be good. However, the director of Timișoara Regional Centre stated that the methodological norms are not respected as 7-10 persons are accommodated in the same room. Persons quarantined at the dorm receive 3 meals per day. In December 2020 one meal was ensured by UNHCR and one by the local authorities and 1 by the NGOs. UNHCR also offered them hygienic products, towels and bed linen. In December 2020, Save the Children also offered rapid COVID-19 tests. The test was done on the 8th day of quarantine and if the result was negative the asylum seeker was transferred to the regional centre, according to JRS representative. As of January 2021 hygienic products were ensured by the Red Cross and food was ensured by the local authorities.

Between November 2020 and January 2021 approximately 1200 persons were quarantined at the high school dorm, according to the director of Regional Centre Timişoara.

During the quarantine asylum seekers are not provided any information on the asylum procedure or their rights and obligations.

Asylum seekers and migrants were kept at the Territorial Inspectorate of the Timișoara Border Police for 2-3 days, before they were quarantined at the dorm, according to the director of Timișoara Regional Centre. However, according to Logs Social Initiatives Grup (Logs), a new established NGO, working in Timisoara, representative there were persons who stayed there even for 6 days. Single women, families and even unaccompanied children were accommodated at the Border Police. Nevertheless, it was reported by Logs representative that they were swiftly transferred to the dorm in quarantine.

At the beginning of the pandemic the Border Police had 3 old shipping containers were asylum seekers were accommodated. Afterwards 3 new shipping containers were brought in, out of which 1 is used by the Border Police officers and the rest for accommodating the foreigners, according to Logs Social Initiatives Grup representative. According to Logs representative there is no total number of designated places for the accommodation of migrants and asylum seekers at the Border Police.

The highest number of migrants accommodated at the Border Police while there were only 3 containers was 130, Logs representative mentioned. However, some of them were also accommodated in one of the cantina’s of the facility, which is out of order.

The JRS representative also mentioned that 20-30 people were accommodated in 1 container. It was also mentioned that they stay there for 5-10 days. While housed at the Border Police foreigners have no access to showers or running water, they only have access to 2 mobile toilets. Logs is ensuring 2 meals per day for each asylum seeker and migrants housed at the Border Police. As for counseling and information provision for them, Logs representative mentioned that this is not provided to them by the NGOs.

The Border Police received around 1,700 rapid tests from the Ministry of Health, according to the director of Timișoara Regional Centre.

According to the JRS representative, when Serbia was included on the ‘yellow list’, 3 unaccompanied children and 2 adults were accommodated in a military tent in IGI-DAI’s courtyard. They arrived during the weekend as the NGO representatives found them there on the next working day. It was mentioned that DSP did not want to take them over and the director of Timișoara Regional Centre informed them that there is no special designated place in the centre where they can be isolated. As for the conditions in this tent it was reported that there was no heating, no toilet. They had access to cold water only. According to JRS they were kept here for 1 week before they were transferred in the rooms.

JRS reported that the tent was used again 2 days before Christmas, because there were no available places at the dorm and at the Border Police. The director of Timișoara Regional Centre confirmed the tent was used again in December 2020, when in the dorm an asylum seeker was tested positive for COVID-19 and had 5 contacts, all adults, in the regional centre. As DSP refused to take over the contacts, IGI-DAI placed them in the tent for 14 days. The tent was not heated, they only had access to cold water, no access to a toilet; and they were sleeping on mattresses.

Şomcuta Mare: temperature was measured by the medical staff. Asylum seekers received 5 masks per person every 2 weeks and every time it was requested. During the state of emergency asylum seekers were allowed to go only for grocery shopping, only 1 per room and they were accompanied by IGI-DAI. After the state of emergency they were allowed to go out of the regional centre only with a prior request, which had to be approved by the director. Asylum seekers were also accompanied at court hearings by IGI-DAI. UNHCR drew up information notes on COVID-19. A video on COVID was also rolled at the entrance of the regional centre.

Galaţi: the newly arrived asylum seekers were isolated from the other asylum seekers. They were accommodated on a different floor and had to use the emergency exit in order to avoid contact with the other asylum seekers. A separate schedule for washing their clothes was established. During the state of emergency asylum seekers were accompanied at the shop and only 1-3 representatives were allowed to go. They were also taken to court hearings by car by IGI-DAI. During the state of alert asylum seekers were allowed to exit the centre only for 4 hours and based a list made a day before.

Rădăuţi: during the state of emergency only one transfer was carried out, because as of 30 March 2020 the quarantine measure of the municipality of Suceava and in the neighboring area was imposed.[9]The newly arrived asylum seekers were separated from the others in the specially designated closed space.

During the state of emergency until July 2020, 1 representative per room was taken by car, by IGI-DAI, to grocery shopping. Until August 2020 asylum seekers were also taken by car to court hearings. According to the JRS representative, 4 asylum seekers who arrived from Serbia and made an asylum application directly at Rădăuţi Regional Centre were placed in institutionalized quarantine. The meals were ensured by the General Directorate for Social Assistance. During the state of alert asylum seekers are allowed to go out of the regional centre between 12 and 16 PM, without prior request. Requests to leave the centre were admitted.

Bucharest: during the state of emergency exit from the center was restricted to 2 hours per day between 12 and 14 PM; 1 person per room was allowed to go grocery shopping and they were accompanied by IGI-DAI officers. For this reason 20 officers were delegated from other departments. The temperature was measured when entering the regional centre. Newly arrived asylum seekers were separated from the others, being accommodated at a different floor for 14 days, which was subsequently reduced to 10 days. The municipality provided 3 meals per day. They were monitored every morning by the medical staff. At the public relations office a COVID-19 video was rolling. Leaflets about the pandemic and prevention measures were also made available.

Asylum seekers were taken to Tudor Gociu centre for their interviews by IGI-DAI. They were allowed to go to CNRR in order for the legal counselor to draft their appeals. During the state of alert asylum seekers are allowed to go out of the city centre for 4 hours. Requests to leave the centre are not admitted.

Giurgiu: Asylum seekers were accompanied at grocery shopping by the staff of the regional center, according to the director of the centre. JRS reported that during the state of emergency going out of the centre was limited to 2-3 hours per day and only for shopping; this measure was in place until October 2020. As of October 2020 there are no more restrictions. UNHCR provided masks, gloves, hand and surface disinfectant and other cleaning products. The JRS representative reported that 2 asylum seekers with COVID-19 were identified. They were transferred from Timișoara. They were quarantined in a room in the regional centre. IGI-DAI staff monitored them.

 

JRS representatives in Rădăuţi, Şomcuta Mare and Bucharest reported that the majority of asylum seekers transferred from Timișoara do not receive the financial allowance before they are transferred from Timișoara. The director of Timișoara regional centre, who stated that this depends on how soon they are transferred to other centres, also confirmed this. Once they are transferred in Rădăuţi or Bucharest they receive the money in a few days (5 in Rădăuţi). It was also reported that few of the asylum seekers transferred to Rădăuţi from Timișoara were not issued temporary identity documents and only had a certificate. This was echoed by the JRS representative in Şomcuta Mare and Bucharest. The JRS representative in Galaţi reported that asylum seekers complain that they have no financial means to buy food or clothes when they arrive in Timișoara.

It was reported by AIDRom that asylum seekers who are to be transferred in other centres, while in Timișoara have no means to buy food or clothing. The NGOs tried to fill this gap by collecting donations. The installation packages provided by AIDRom within their project are insufficient to cover all asylum seekers. The JRS representative in Timișoara reported that asylum seekers who were quarantined received the financial allowance in 3-4 days after their arrival in the regional centre. During the quarantine asylum seekers do not receive the financial allowance, according to the director. According to the JRS representative, asylum seekers who have money with them are informed in writing, in Romanian, that they will not receive the financial allowance. Due to the fact that they do not understand what is written on the information note, they request the NGO representatives to explain the contents of the document.

 

 

 

[1]        Article 56(6) Asylum Decree.

[2]        Article 17(7) Asylum Act.

[3]        Article 17(1)(a) Asylum Act.

[4]        Article 88^1 Asylum Act.

[5]        Article 55(8) Asylum Decree.

[6]        Ibid.

[7]        Information provided by IGI-DAI, 16 February 2021.

[8]        DECISION no. 1,103 of December 17, 2020 approving the methodological normes for determining the minimum conditions of accommodation, cost standards and the list of spaces intended to ensure the quarantine of persons, provided by the central and local public administration authorities, necessary for the application of measures in the field of public health in situations of epidemiological and biological risk, according to the provisions of Law no. 136/2020 on the establishment of measures in the field of public health in situations of epidemiological and biological risk, available at: https://bit.ly/384OddJ

[9]Military Ordinance 6/30.03.2020.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the first report
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation