Conditions in Regional Centres are monitored, inter alia, by the Ombudsman, who visits the centres on a regular basis. However, in 2020 no visits were conducted by the Ombudsman, except the one in Stolnicu Regional Centre, in order to assess the situation of unaccompanied children.
State of the facilities
The Regional Centre Timișoara
The Regional Centre was located in the same premises as the Emergency Transit Centre (ETC) operated by UNHCR, where refugees evacuated from other countries stay before they are resettled to another country, until 1st December 2020.ETC moved to another facility as of 1st December 2020.The facility is located 20 minutes by bus from the city centre. The facility was repainted and the doors and windows were repaired in December 2017.
The entire facility is split into four buildings, of which two are designed for accommodation. Each of these two buildings contains 12 rooms with 12 beds per room. One building (“Building B”) is separated into two parts through a built-in wall: six rooms are dedicated to asylum seekers and another six to ETC refugees. Until December 2020 ETC had a total capacity of 200 places, the Regional Centre has a capacity of 50 places. Each building where persons are accommodated has a kitchen. However, “Building B” dedicated to families only has 2 refrigerators. “Building B” has two bathrooms, each equipped with two squat toilets, two urinals, three sinks and three showers.
In the second half of 2021 renovation work commenced in the regional centre of Timișoara. The works consist of interior painting, replacement of tiles in hallways, kitchens, bathrooms, replacement of laminate flooring in accommodation rooms with tiles, replacement of all facilities in bathrooms and kitchens, replacement of radiators and modernization of the central heating system. The renovation work commenced with building C and in January 2022 was finalised, but the reception had not been completed, according to the director of the centre. Renovation of building B will start in March 2022. Metal bars were installed on all windows. She also mentioned that the construction work for the additional accommodation places were slowing moving forward. In 2021 the highest number of asylum seekers was 400 and they were accommodated in the centre for 3-4 days until they were transferred. The total number of asylum seekers accommodated in Timisoara regional centre in 2021 was 7200.
The Regional Centre Şomcuta Mare
The Regional Centre is located close to the city centre and 25 km away from Baia Mare. The centre consists of a three-storey building. Rooms are located on the second and third floor, each floor containing 22 rooms with 8-10 persons sleeping in a room. There are two bathrooms on each floor, separated by gender. On the hallway of the first floor, there are 6 refrigerators, while the ground floor has two isolation rooms for medical purposes.The basement has a kitchen with ten stoves, a dining room and a laundry room with four washing machines but only two are functional. The basement also contains a specially designed closed space (see Place of Detention).
In 2021 small renovations were carried out, taps were changed and rooms and hallways were painted.
The Regional Centre Rădăuţi
The Regional Centre is located not far from the city centre. There are rooms with eight and ten beds. There are two bathrooms, one for women and one for men, each with three toilets and showers. There is a common kitchen, which lacked refrigerators and dishes at the time of the Ombudsman’s visit. The gym and prayer room were converted into accommodation in 2020 in order to increase reception capacity. Each room has a refrigerator, which serves 10 persons. Construction of new accommodation places started in October/November 2021. The JRS representative reported there is limited space for counselling for NGOs.
The Regional Centre Galaţi
The Regional Centre is located in the city, with easy access to public transport. The centre has three buildings: two for administrative purposes and one two-storey building for accommodation. On each floor of the accommodation building, there is one bathroom for men and one for women: each comprising of three showers and seven sinks. There is only one normal toilet for women per floor; the rest are ‘squat toilets’.
In 2020, 2 tents were set up in the courtyard, as a preventive measure, in case the number of asylum seekers increased. However, they were not used in this scope, but for medical screening of asylum seekers who made an asylum application directly in the regional centre.
The rooms have a maximum capacity of 12 beds. Generally, if there are available places asylum seekers are accommodated depending on nationality. Families are accommodated in the same room, separately from single men.There are two kitchens on each floor with three stoves and three sinks each, as well as one refrigerator for 12 people. In 2020, the clubs and the gym were transformed into accommodation rooms. Specially designed closed spaces were also used as accommodation rooms. The prayer room still exists.The highest number of asylum seekers accommodated in the regional centre in 2021 was 240. And on 13 December 2021 there were 181 persons accommodated.
The Regional Centre Bucharest
The Regional Centre is located 20 minutes by bus from the city centre. The building accommodating asylum seekers has four floors. It contains a total of 80 rooms, each with four beds, a toilet and a shower. On each floor there are two kitchens, each with two refrigerators, two stoves and two sinks. When assigning asylum seekers to different rooms, IGI-DAI takes into consideration their religion, nationality and gender. Families are accommodated together.
The renovation of the Vasile Stolnicu centre started in July 2021. All the asylum seekers were moved to the Tudor Gociu centre. Beneficiaries of international protection who had lived in the centre for a long period were rehoused by JRS. The director of Vasile Stolnicu reported that work will be finalised by the end of 2022.
The Tudor Gociu centre is located in the 4th District, 30 minutes by tram from the city centre. The building has four floors. Asylum seekers are accommodated on the third and fourth floors. There are around 20 rooms for accommodation. All windows have metal bars. According to the JRS representative the centre looks like a detention centre. One room may accommodate four persons. there are four batrooms with four toilets and one kitchen on each floor with one refigerator in each kitchen. The director of the Vasile Stolnicu centre describe the rooms as a little bit too crowded. Bathrooms and toilets are separated according to gender. The JRS representative reported that privacy is lacking in the bathroom as the doors cannot be locked. There are no leisure/common rooms. There is no courtyard, so children and adults spend their time on the hallways or in their rooms. It was also mentioned that there are not enough office spaces for IGI-DAI. For a certain period of time, the logistics deprtment was based at the Stolnicu centre.
The Regional Centre Giurgiu
The Regional Centre is a former barracks located in the outskirts of the city and repurposed in 2011, without any refurbishment beyond repaint. As a result, technical problems often occur. The capacity of the centre is 100 places arranged in seven rooms. At the time of the Ombudsman’s visit in June 2017, the capacity of the centre had been increased by 70 places, as the gym and prayer room had been converted into bedrooms.Each room has 20 beds equipped with one refrigerator each, and there are two kitchens with stoves and sinks. There are two bathrooms, one for men and one for women, with five ‘squat toilets’ and five showers. The centre has a small courtyard but is not accessible as it is surrounded by a fence. In 2020 2 tents were set up in the courtyard for medical screening. According to the director of the centre in 2021 rooms were painted and small repairs were carried out. 70 new beds were purchased and the matresses will be received in 2022.
Food and hygiene
The Asylum Decree prescribes the necessary daily amount of nutritional value based on which the daily allowance for food is calculated in the Regional Centres.Asylum seekers may cook for themselves, using the kitchens available in every centre.
In all regional centres asylum seekers are obliged to clean their rooms, kitchen and bathrooms on a rotation basis. The number of toilets and showers are sufficient in all facilities during regular occupancy.
In 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 AIDRom implemented a project providing asylum seekers with cleaning products and they were also encouraged to clean their rooms and common spaces every week.
Galaţi: Hygienic conditions were described until 2020 as relatively good. As of 2020, the JRS representative reported that the premises were filthy, beyond description; the toilets are clogged 3 times a week; bathrooms are rusty; asylum seekers do not clean their rooms and common spaces, even though it should be done once a week; all mattresses were changed, but soon after all were infested with bed bugs; disinfection has no results; beds, blankets and bed linen are old and worn down; the kitchens are open according to a schedule from 6 to 22 and the ones on theground floor are closed due to gas leaks. In 2021 the hygienic conditions were continuously degrading, according to the JRS representative. The conditions were described as awful, beyond appalling, worse than last year. In November/December 2021 they repaired the water pipes and just started to repair the sewerage system. Shower tubs and some of the cookers were replaced. Asylum seekers complained about the conditions in the bathrooms, the bedrooms and the state of the mattresses. The men’s toilets were reported to be in a more degraded state. On the other hand, the conditions in the specially designed closed spaces were described as really good. All beds and mattresses were new. Some of the Afghan nationals evacuated by the Romanian authorities were accommodated in these spaces.
Şomcuta Mare: in 2021, the JRS representative reported that the hygienic conditions were awful for a while, and NGO representatives had no functional toilets. The roof of the building was damaged and it was raining inside and because of the damp, the wall and ceiling plaster was falling. They repaired the ceiling but there is still water coming in because they did not repair the roof. Maybe it will be repaired in 2022. Non-functional toilets and faucets were also reported. These were repaired only in December 2021. Bathrooms were flooded. The hygiene in the kitchens was not better; it was descried by the JRS representative as filthy. Matresses were not replaced. Asylum seekers complained about the bed bugs and that they do not receive pots, cutlery and plates.
In Bucharest: the Tudor Gociu centre was clean before asylum seekers were transferred from Vasile Stolnicu centre, according to the JRS representative. The hygienic conditions in Tudor Gociu centre have gradually deteriorated. Walls are dirty; mattresses are black due to filth. The JRS representative said that the third floor, where families are accommodated, is cleaner than on the fourth floor where single men live. Single men are reluctant to clean their rooms. The smell on the fourth floor was unbearable. Conversely, the director of the Vasile Stolnicu centre reported that the centre is clean. There are bedbugs in the rooms, even when disinfections were done twice a month; there is no TV in the rooms. It was mentioned by the director of Stolnicu that when asylum seekers transferred from Timisoara are screened by the medical staff they observe that all of them have bed buds bites or scabies. The JRS representative also reported that the heating does not work properly and there was a period when it was very cold. Warm water is available only a few hours per day.
As for the Vasile Stolnicu centre, the JRS representative reported that it was indescribably filthy. The hygiene conditions were only better on one floor, where long term residents were living. The state of the plumbing system was really bad, causing leaks. The layout of the centre was better because each room had its own bathroom, there were more kitchens and it had a courtyard.
In Giurgiu, it was reported by the JRS representative that the hygiene conditions had improved. A steam vaccum was purchased in order to clean the mattresses and eterminate the bed bugs. It was also reported that asylum seekers arriving from Timisoara had bed bug bites. The common spaces are cleaned daily by the cleaning staff of the centre. Save the Children renovated and furnished a room for children, where a video explaining the rights and obligations of asylum seekers, is broadcast. According to the director this is not actually a room, but a corner in the common space. In 2020 repairs were carried out in the bathrooms and kitchens; the equipment, plumbing and paint were repaired. Multiple disinfections have been made to eradicate bedbugs.
In Rădăuţi in 2020, the state of the regional centre was described as filthy, there was an unpleasant odour; the kitchen is filthy. Asylum seekers complain about bedbugs. The mattresses were worn out. In 2021 the centre was cleaner. The kitchen was painted. The shower curtains were worn and the toilets were clogged, but this was solved. It was also reported by the JRS representative that hot water was not available 24h/7, due to high bills. However, the asylum seekers were aware of the hot water schedule and never complained about it. It was still reported, however, that the smell in the centre is unpleasant; the kitchen is not clean; mattresses are worn-down. Asylum seekers clean their rooms but overall the centre is not kept clean.
The Ombudsman had also reported the lack of cleanliness in the hallways, all rooms, kitchen and bathrooms. The mattresses were worn-down, torn apart, bed linen was missing on some of the beds, and wardrobes were worn-down as well, tables and chairs were dirty and broken, walls were dirty; food was stored on the floor and on chairs. The Ombudsman conluded that the conditions for preparing food were not ensured; the kitchen appliances were filthy and worn-down and some of them were not even working; drains were clogged, pots and dishes were dirty and worn.
Even though IGI-DAI carried out 3-4 disinfection operations in 2021 and they also received sprays from UNHCR, asylum seekers still complained about insects. The issue of bugs and insects is still a major problem in the Regional Centre ofTimișoara. The Ombudsman also noticed this problem in 2018 and in 2021 reported the existence of cockroaches in the kitchen. The residents complain about the existence of the cockroaches.
There have not been any protests related to the conditions in the centres.
Activities in the centres
Asylum seekers are allowed to go outside whenever they want, until 22:00. All Regional Centres except Timișoara have a prayer room where residents can practice their religion.
AIDRom stated that the Romanian language classes were held mainly in physical format, respecting the protection measures and social distancing. They continued in this format due to the limited possibilities of asylum seekers to have access to a mobile phone for online courses. Where beneficiaries had access to an electronic device, the courses were held online.
Social and community workers in the centres organise different activities for both adults and children. In 2020, these activities were held in smaller groups and outside, when possible.
Save the Children Romania offers as part of a project funded from the organisation own resources program, educational social services and material assistance addressing the specific needs of asylum-seeking children and refugees, including unaccompanied minors The activities are running in 5 Regional Centres, with the exception of Giurgiu.
The project forsees the following activities:
- Daily educational-recreational program for children in accommodation centers
- Facilitating access to education and cultural accommodation
- Services to ensure their basic needs
- Facilitating access to social and medical services
- Social counseling for children and adults
- Material assistance.
Material assistance consist of hygienic products, food, clothes, shoes. All asylum seekers received food, irrespective of their age or vulnerability, according to the Save the Children representative. Donations were also made by private persons and companies.
In 2021 activities in the centres were gradually resumed, taking into account the preventive measures.
According to JRS representative in 2021, in Timișoara, activities with children were organised. Romanian classes were held once a week.
Rădăuţi: activities with children took place.
Şomcuta Mare: it was reported that activities with children were organised. Romanian language classes were held, but not constantly until September 2021. The teacher from ISJ was not present when the school classes were held online.
In Bucharest, activities for asylum seeking children were held by Save the Children and Romanian classes were held twice a week, by AIDRom.
Galaţi: activities were held during 2021, when the weather allowed it these were organised in the open-air or in smaller groups. Inside activities were organised taking into account preventive measures. Romanian language classes were also held but in smaller groups.
In Giurgiu, AIDRom and the ICAR Foundation provide activities for adults and children, even though the centre has no interior or exterior recreational spaces where such activities may be organised.The lack of playgrounds for children and places for sports activities has been highlighted by JRS and by the Ombudsman. Activities outside the centre were organised by AIDRom and trasnport was ensured by IGI-DAI.
 UNHCR, ETC Timișoara, 14 December 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2DuZqDN; Operations in Romania, 16 December 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2D0OjkO.
 Information provided by IGI-DAI, 10 March 2022.
 Ombudsman, Report of the visit to the Regional Centre for Procedures and Reception for Asylum Seekers Şomcuta Mare, 36/2017, available in Romanian at: http://bit.ly/2E7EANw, 4-5.
 Ombudsman, Report of the visit to the Regional Centre for Procedures and Reception for Asylum Seekers Rădăuţi, 34/2017, available in Romanian at: http://bit.ly/2nEuqcO, 5.
 Ibid, 3-4.
 Ombudsman, Report of the visit to the Regional Centre for Procedures and Reception for Asylum Seekers Giurgiu,29/2017, available in Romanian at: http://bit.ly/2EvCLrn, 2.
 Article 55(1) Asylum Decree.
 Ombudman Visit Report, page 5.
 Ombudman Visit Report, pages 6-7, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/3DZGvA7.
 Although the Ombudsman states that there is a confession room in Timișoara where Romanian classes are held, this is a hallway leading to the NGO offices rather than an actual room.
 Information provided by AIDRom, 4 March 2021.
 Ombudsman, Report of the visit to the Regional Centre Giurgiu,29/2017, 6.