Special reception needs of vulnerable groups

Romania

Country Report: Special reception needs of vulnerable groups Last updated: 30/04/21

Author

Felicia Nica with support from JRS Romania Visit Website

An applicant with special reception needs is a vulnerable person according to Article 5^1 of the Asylum Act, who needs special guarantees to enjoy his or her rights and fulfil his or her obligations under the law.[1] Article 5^1(2) lists the following categories of vulnerable persons: minors, unaccompanied minors, disabled people, elderly people, pregnant women, single parents with minor children, victims of human trafficking, persons suffering from serious illnesses, people with mental disorders and persons who have been subjected to torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence, or persons in other special circumstances.

The law does not prescribe actual mechanisms or methods for the identification of vulnerable persons. The Asylum Decree only states that specialised personnel of IGI-DAI cooperate with UNHCR and relevant NGOs to identify asylum seekers who may fall within in the category of vulnerable persons referred. In order to assess the vulnerability of asylum seekers, specialists within IGI-DAI, where appropriate together with experts from other institutions and authorities competent in the field, to make an assessment of the special needs of foreigners. Depending on the specific need of each asylum seeker identified as vulnerable person, IGI-DAI notifies and cooperates with authorities and specialised agencies in order to provide necessary assistance. IGI-DAI may collaborate with NGOs to assist asylum seekers identified as vulnerable.[2]

 

Psycho-social specialists of the ICAR Foundation who carry out activities in the Regional Centres first seek to identify asylum seekers, especially those belonging to vulnerable groups (families in difficulty, elderly people, people with chronic illness, unaccompanied children, victims of physical and mental violence) and their needs. Subsequent tests are conducted to assess the general health status of newly arrived asylum seekers, while general practitioners provide weekly medical consultations (see Health Care).[3]

According to the Asylum Act, asylum seekers with special needs have the right to benefit from adapted accommodation and assistance conditions in the Regional Centres.[4] However, not all centres are adapted to such needs: Bucharest and Timișoara, for example, are not equipped with ramps for persons with disabilities, even though in Bucharest there is a person who uses a motorised wheelchair.[5]

The house rules of the Regional Centres stipulate that, in order to deal with situations of sexual or gender-based violence, the Director of the Centre shall:[6]

  1. Inform the persons accommodated in the centre about sexual or gender-based violence and the consequences of such acts;
  2. In case of such situations occurring during the period of accommodation in the centre, notify the competent public authorities and institutions and, depending on the seriousness of the deed, gradually apply one of the sanctions provided in Article 47 ROI (see Reduction or Withdrawal of Reception Conditions);
  3. Cooperate with national and international NGOs, as well as with public authorities and institutions competent in this field to assist victims while they are accommodated in the Regional Centre.

Reception of unaccompanied children

  • Unaccompanied children below the age of 16

 

Unaccompanied children below the age of 16 are accommodated in a centre managed by DGASPC or an authorised private body.[7] If they have relatives residing in a Regional Centre, DGASPC decides where they will be accommodated, taking into consideration their best interests. In case of unaccompanied children who have siblings under or above the age of 16, when taking a decision regarding their accommodation, IGI-DAI shall consult their legal representative, observe the principle of family unity and take into account the age and maturity of the older sibling.[8] The opinion of the unaccompanied child regarding the place where he or she will be accommodated is considered and given due importance, taking into account his or her age and degree of maturity.[9]

Based on information provided by Save the Children Romania, there have been cases where unaccompanied children below the age of 16 were left in the Regional Centres for months before being accommodated in a DGASPC centre. One of the reasons for this is likely the fact that DGASPC is facing a shortage of accommodation places. As regards the conditions in DGASPC facilities, Save the Children stated that the facilities are decent but there are no interpreters; thus, interaction with these children is limited until they learn Romanian. In most cases the staff is not trained to work with foreign children, the services provided are not adapted to their needs.

Timișoara: Unaccompanied children are accommodated in the DGASPC Emergency Accommodation Centre for Homeless Children and have described living conditions as good; they receive 3 meals per day. However, the director of the Regional Centre of Timișoara pointed out several issues regarding the centre and the assistance provided by the DGASPC social assistance, such as the lack of interpreters and specialised personnel. It was also mentioned that DGASPC does not assume responsibility for unaccompanied children under the age of 16. The social examination conducted by an employee of DGASPC, without an interpreter, always concludes that is in the best interests of the child to remain with his or her so called “relatives” in the Regional Centre. This was also confirmed by the JRS representative, who stated that if children are accompanied by their uncle, aunt or brothers, they are not taken over by DGASPC. It was reported, by the director, that the majority of unaccompanied minors under the age of 16 are accommodated in the centre, but not for a long time, because they are transferred to other centres. As regards the interpretation, the JRS representative mentioned that from time to time CNRR may provide interpretation services in case DGASPC wants to communicate information to the children about the asylum procedure. As for the experience in working with asylum-seeking children, the DGASPC became more knowledgeable over time, JRS representative said.

Şomcuta Mare: Unaccompanied children are accommodated in family houses in Baia Mare, managed by the NGO Somaschi Foundation. JRS has reported that conditions in the facilities are good. In 2020 there were 2 unaccompanied minors accommodated in this centre, but they were over 16 years of age and specially requested to be accommodated here. As for minors under 16 years of age, according to a JRS representative they were all accommodated in the regional centre. In 2020, approximately 60 unaccompanied minors were registered in Şomcuta Mare, out of which 15-20% were under 16 years of age. There was also a 5 year-old unaccompanied child for whom IGI-DAI submitted a notification to DGASPC to take him over, but no answer was received from their part. In the regional centre unaccompanied children are accommodated separately.

Galaţi: In 2020, it was reported that no unaccompanied child was taken over by DGASPC in the day and night shelter for homeless children, under the authority of DGASPC. All children under the age of 16 were accommodated in the regional centre. No social examination was conducted by DGASPC in order to evaluate what is in his or her best interest, with regards to their housing. The reason for this are the lack of places in their accommodation centres and that it is better for the unaccompanied children to stay in the regional centre.

Rădăuţi: Unaccompanied children are no longer accommodated in the Solca Placement Centre as it was closed. As of 2019 children were accommodated in the Children’s Univers from Rădăuţi. The centre is a family house located 200 m from the Regional Centre. The living conditions are satisfactory and hygienic conditions are good. In 2020 only 2 brothers of 15 and 17 years of age were accommodated in this centre. It was reported that there is no qualified staff, trained or equipped to deal with asylum seeking children. There is no interpreter, but when necessary they would turn to IGI-DAI’s interpreters. The activities organised in the centre are not adapted to the needs of the unaccompanied minors. Unaccompanied children under 16 years of age orally declared that they are accompanied by relatives, with no further evidence being provided. Thus they remained in the regional centre, where they were not accommodated separately from the adults. A JRS representative reported that even 12-year old children remained in the centre, but they later on left the centre.

Giurgiu: the director of the regional centre reported that 21 unaccompanied children under 16 were accommodated in the regional centre, while no children were accommodated in DGASPC centres. He reported that unaccompanied children refused to go to DGASPC centres. On the other hand the JRS representative mentioned the lack of available places in DGASPC centres.

Bucharest: As of 2020, unaccompanied children are no longer accommodated in the Pinocchio Day Centre within DGASPC District 1. Unaccompanied children are only accommodated in Gavroche Day Centre within DGASPC District 2. In February 2020, UNHCR notified the Romanian Ombudsman on the situation of a number of asylum-seeking children under 16 accommodated in Stolnicu Regional Centre because DGASPC District 2 Bucharest has no available places to take them over. An inquiry was conducted by the representatives of the Romanian Ombudsman at the regional centre and DGASPC. It was found that the reception conditions in the regional centre were inadequate; the regional centre accommodates unaccompanied minors between the ages of 12 and 18, most of these minors are accommodated together with adults. There was only one room where only minors were accommodated. As for the living conditions in Stolnicu centre the Ombudsman reported that these are completely inadequate for a decent life and breaching many hygiene rules: unbreathable air in the hall ways and rooms, poorly oxygenated and the smell is hard to bear; the mess in the rooms is beyond description; the bed linen was very dirty and for some beds this was lacking; the furniture was in an advanced stage of degradation (broken chairs, broken window frames, that could not be locked, broken and dirty linoleum, etc). The Ombudsman further reported that the even though each room has its own bathroom, the conditions were the same as in the rooms: infiltrations, rusty toilet tanks, chipped sinks, showers (which were connected directly to the sink) were broken. During the visit, the Ombudsman representatives were informed that during the year (2020) the centre will be rehabilitated. [10]

The Ombudsman reported that Gavroche centre has a capacity of 24 places and at the time of the investigation 19 places were occupied. Thus the centre was not confronted with an overcrowding as stated by UNHCR in their notification.[11]

The diretor of Stolnicu Regional Centre reported that 59 unaccompanied children under the age of 16 were referred to Gravroche centre. However, this not necessarely means that they were also taken over and accommodated there. Many of the children left and only 4-5 children were accommodated in the centre. It was also reported that there is a limited number of places (5-7 places) designated to asylum-seeking children in DGASPC centres.

Conditions in Gavroche centre are good according to JRS. It was also reported that many unaccompanied children are leaving the centre after the isolation period (14-10 days).

According to IGI-DAI, 98 unaccompanied children were accommodated in DGASPC centres in 2020:[12]

  Occupancy at the end of 2020
Bucharest 7
Giurgiu 2
Galaţi 0
Rădăuţi 2
Şomcuta Mare 2
Timișoara 4
Total 17

Source: IGI-DAI, 16 February 2021.

 

  • Unaccompanied children aged 16 or more

Unaccompanied children, who have reached the age of 16 and do not have the necessary material resources to ensure their subsistence, are accommodated in the Regional Centres. They are accommodated together with adults in all regional centres, except Şomcuta Mare, where they are accommodated separately. Only one 6-year-old child is housed together with his uncle.

The director of Stolnicu Regional Centre reported that in 2020 there were 189 unaccompanied minors registered in the centre, out of which 59 were under the age of 16.

In Giurgiu, 95 unaccompanied children over the age of 16 were accommodated in the regional centre, the director of the centre reported and 2 were accommodated in Casuta Albastra centre managed by DGASPC.

During 2019, a total of 230 unaccompanied children were accommodated in Regional Centres.[13] At the end of 2020, 412 unaccompanied children were accommodated in Regional Centres.[14]

  Occupancy at the end of 2020
Bucharest 64
Giurgiu 116
Galaţi 95
Rădăuţi 8
Şomcuta Mare 79
Timișoara 50
Total 412

Source: IGI-DAI, 16 February 2021.

Reception of families

Efforts are made to ensure that nuclear families can stay together during the asylum procedure. Families are accommodated in separate rooms.

Due to the high number of asylum seekers registered in 2020, families were accommodated together with other women in Bucharest.

In Galaţi, if there were available places families were accommodated separately. As of September 2020, this is no longer possible because of the increased number of asylum seekers. Single women are accommodated with single mothers with children; single fathers with boys accommodated together with single men; single mothers with boys with other families or women.

Timișoara: families are accommodated separately if there are available places. The director of Timișoara Regional Centre also mentioned that in 2020 due to the high number of asylum seekers, they were also sleeping in the kitchen or on the hall way or 2 persons in one bed.

In Rădăuţi families are not always accommodated separately. There were cases where a single mother together with her child had to share a room with single men. It was also reported that asylum seekers are no longer accommodated based on their nationalities.

Beyond the Regional Centres managed by IGI-DAI, AIDRom runs two Accommodation Centres:

  • One Accommodation Centre in Timișoara, which operates uninterruptedly since August 2012 with a capacity of 15 places; and
  • One Accommodation Centre in Bucharest, which operates since 2015 with 18 places.

These centres accommodate vulnerable persons, especially single parents with children (mothers with children). The AIDRom centres are located within these cities, funded partially by AMIF and partially by external donors. Asylum seekers housed in these centres have access to social assistance, cultural activities and cultural orientation.

AIDRom reported that in 2020, approximately 25 asylum seekers were accommodated in the 2 AIDRom centers. In Bucharest they accommodated families who remained here for almost 1 year, until they finalised the asylum procedure.[15]

In 2020, according to IGI-DAI a total of 41 persons were accommodated in both AIDRom centres and at the end of the year there were 11 asylum seekers these centres.[16]

 

 

 

 

[1]        Article 2(1)(b^2) Asylum Act.

[2]        Article 5(1)-(4) Asylum Decree.

[3]        AIDRom, Adapted and accessible health services for asylum seekers in Romania, available at: http://bit.ly/2Dz3v9U.

[4]        Article 17(1)(l) Asylum Act.

[5]        IGI-DAI takes into consideration any special needs of asylum seekers. Groups such as elderly persons are accommodated on the first floor of the building so as to avoid many flights of stairs. Moreover, in one case, a person suffering from epilepsy was accommodated alone.

[6]        Article 60 ROI.

[7]        Article 58(3) Asylum Decree, in conjunction with Article 78(1) Child Protection Act.

[8]        Article 58(3^1) Asylum Decree.

[9]        Article 58(4) Asylum Decree.

[10]       Ombudsman, recommendation 57 of 26 February 2020, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/3kHBwuA

[11]       Ombudsman, recommendation 57 of 26 February 2020, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/3reuPlV

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

[13]       Information provided by IGI-DAI, 5 March 2020.

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

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

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

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