Conditions in reception facilities

Romania

Country Report: Conditions in reception facilities Last updated: 10/07/24

Author

Felicia Nica

Conditions in Regional Centres are monitored, inter alia, by the Ombudsman, who visits the centres on a regular basis. In 2022 the Ombudsman conducted monitoring visits in Bucuresti, Galati, Rădăuţi, Şomcuta Mare and Giurgiu.[1]

 

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.[2]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.[3] The renovation work commenced with building C and in January 2022 was finalised. Renovation of building B started in March 2022 and at the time of the author’s visit only minor details were still to be finalised. Metal bars were installed on all windows. The construction work for the additional accommodation places and offices was suspended. In 2022 the highest number of asylum seekers was 250 during July and August and they were accommodated in the centre for two to three days until they were transferred. Two shipping containers were installed in the courtyard, where IGI-DAI registered beneficiaries of temporary protection.

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 2, 4, 6, 8 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).[4] The centre has a capacity of 100 places. In Augsut 2021 it was extended to 200 places and as of March 2022 the capacity was increased with 50 more places, by transforming the gym room into an accommodation room.[5]

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.[6] The gym and prayer room were converted into accommodation in 2020 in order to increase reception capacity.[7] Each room has a refrigerator, which serves 10 persons. Construction of new accommodation places started in October/November 2021. The construction work was also suspended, as the constructor is the same in both centres Rădăuţi and Timişoara. There is still 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’.

The rooms have a maximum capacity of four and 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 in each room. In 2022 the clubs and the gym were functional and transformed into accommodation rooms only when necessary. Specially designed closed spaces were  used as accommodation rooms only in January for the Afghan refugees. The prayer room still exists.The highest number of asylum seekers accommodated in the regional centre in 2022 was 157.

In February-March 2022 four shipping containers were installed for the registration of beneficiaries of temporary protection.[8]

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 and was still not finalised at the end of 2022. All the asylum seekers were moved to the Tudor Gociu centre.

The building  of Tudor Gociu has four floors. Asylum seekers are accommodated on the third and fourth floors. There are 24 rooms for accommodation, one kitchen on each floor, four bathrooms and two washing rooms. All windows have metal bars. 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.

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 eight rooms. At the time of the author’s visit in January 2023, there were 8 accommodation rooms with different capacity from 4,8, 15, 16, 17, 24 to 26 beds. The capacity of the centre could be increased by 74 places. Each room is equipped with refrigerators;the number of refrigerators depends on the number of beds. There are two kitchens with four stoves and three sinks. Only one kitchen was used by the asylum seekers, the other one was locked. There are two bathrooms, one for men and one for women, with five ‘squat toilets’ and five showers. The women’s bathroom was also locked. The gym is used as a deposit room for old refrigerators and washing machines and single use bed sheets. There is also a club where Romanian language classes were held by AIDRom with seven desks and chairs a small collection of books in Romanian. The isolation room was being used at the time of the author’s visit by a beneficiary of international protection with a medical condition, who used to live in the  Vasile Stolnicu centre. The isolation room had its own bathroom and half of the room was serving as a deposit of beds. A prayer space was set up next to the kitchen. The centre has a small courtyard, but it is not accessible as it is surrounded by a fence. In the backyard old furniture, beds, sinks are deposited. The two tents that were set up in the courtyard for medical screening in 2020, were in an advanced state of degradation. However, they were not used anymore. The rooms were painted and small repairs were carried out. The majority of the beds in the visited rooms were new and all the matresses were covered in plastic to protect them from bed bugs.

 

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.[9]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 – December 2022 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: The Ombudsman described the hygienic conditions in the majority of rooms as appropriate. However, there were also rooms with inadequate hygienic conditions: walls were dirty and scratched.[10]

Bathrooms were clean, but there were also bathrooms with worn down sanitary installations. The kitchens were also described as clean and appropriate, the stoves were new. The Ombudsman observed that out of 28 rooms only two were equipped with air conditioning and recommended its installation in all rooms. The director of the centre reported that the living conditions had improved in 2022, as they painted the entire building, the linoleum was replaced, mattresses and furniture were changed. The water pipes in bathrooms were repaired. The centre is still confronting bed bugs infestation, even though disinfection is carried out twice a month.

Şomcuta Mare:  The Ombudsman reported inadequate hygienic conditions in kitchens: mould and food scraps were observed next to the pipes, there was no furniture where asyum seekers could eat. In 2021, the JRS representative reported that 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. At the time of the Ombudsman’s visit at the end of March 2022 this was still an issue, mould and infiltration was observed.  Bathrooms were in a precarious state of hygiene: walls with damp, damaged sanitary items, no head showers, rusty toilets.[11] The director reported that sink faucets, light switches and electrical outlets were changed during the year and the roof had been repaired. The rooms affected by damp were not used. In 2023 the centre will be painted according to the director.

In Bucharest: according to the Ombudsman the hygienic conditions in Tudor Gociu centre have deteriorated. The furniture, mattresses, linoleum were worn down. On the 4th floor dampness and mould was observd by the visiting team.  The bathrooms were in a poor state of cleanliness and hygiene: mouldy walls, damp, doors were dirty, broken tiles, rusty toilets, showers without a hose or shower head and the lighting was not working. The kitchens were also dirty. [12]

In Giurgiu, the author observed during their visit, and it was also confirmed by interviewed NGO representatives, that the hygiene conditions had improved. Hallways were freshly painted, rooms were clean and painted, only in one room were there doodles on the walls. The conditions had also improved from the Ombudsman’s visit on 15 April 2022, when it was noted that hallways were dirty and not painted as well as the accommodation rooms, refrigerators were dirty and smelly and bugs were also spotted. With regards to the bathrooms the situation was the same as reported by the Ombudsman, water on the floor, damp, the walls separating the showers were rusty, there was a leaking pipe and it smelt. The toilets had old tiles and the smell was unbearable. The director of the centre stated that the centre will be renovated, without knowing when works would start.

In Rădăuţi, the Ombudsman reported that the bathrooms, even though they were renovated in 2021, were worn down and the hygienic conditions were inadequate. The kitchens were also dirty, the tiles were broken and dirty bugs were spotted on the dirty floor. The same situation was observed in the building intended for the accommodation of vulnerable asylum seekers: the floors and walls were dirty.[13] It was also reported by the NGO representative that hot water and heating was not available 24h/7 in the accommodation rooms or the NGO offices. Asylum seekers complained that during cold days the heating was not on all day. Also, bed bugs remain an issue.  The director of the centre reported that during 2022 rooms, kitchen, bathrooms and hallways had been refurbished.

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.[14]

AIDRom stated that the Romanian language classes were held in person, 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.[15]

Social and community workers in the centres organise different activities for both adults and children

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.- In Timişoara these are not organised as there are no children
  • Facilitating access to education and cultural accommodation
  • Services to ensure their basic needs
  • Facilitating access to social and medical services, when necessary
  • 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 2022 Romanian classes were held by AIDRom and activities for children were also organised in all centres, except Timişoara.

 

 

 

[1] Ombudsman, Visiting reports, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/3myecV5;

[2] UNHCR, ETC Timișoara, 14 December 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2DuZqDN; Operations in Romania, 16 December 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2D0OjkO.

[3] Information provided by IGI-DAI, 10 March 2022.

[4] 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.

[5]  Ombudsman, Report of the visit to the Regional Centre for Procedures and Reception for Asylum Seekers Şomcuta Mare, 29 March 2022, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/3L8jAsg

[6] 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.

[7]  Ibid, 3-4.

[8]  Ombudsman, Report of the visit to the Regional Centre for Procedures and Reception for Asylum Seekers Galati, 7 July 2022, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/41WQj9G

[9] Article 55(1) Asylum Decree.

[10] Ombudsman, Report of the visit to the Regional Centre for Procedures and Reception for Asylum Seekers Galati, 7 July 2022, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/41WQj9G

[11] Ombudsman, Report of the visit to the Regional Centre for Procedures and Reception for Asylum Seekers Şomcuta Mare, 29 March 2022, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/3L8jAsg

[12] Ombudsman, Report of the visit to the Regional Centre for Procedures and Reception for Asylum Seekers Bucharest, 19 April 2022, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/3zfbTJk

[13] Ombudsman, Report of the visit to the Regional Centre for Procedures and Reception for Asylum Seekers Radauti, 14 April 2022, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/3F7xjeP.

[14] 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.

[15] Information provided by AIDRom, 4 March 2021.

Table of contents

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