Special reception needs of vulnerable groups


Country Report: Special reception needs of vulnerable groups Last updated: 31/05/23


Felicia Nica

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] What is more, during their visit in the regional centre of Timişoara, the Ombudsman noticed that an asylum seeker who had walking difficulties due to an accident, struggled to use the toilet and recommended that the management build a toilet for persons with special needs.[6]

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:[7]

  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.[8] 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.[9]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 herage and degree of maturity.[10]

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 three meals per day. There are 2 rooms with 8 places. Asylum seekers are accommodated together with Romanian children. Save the Children representatives stated that no activities are organised for them; they are not allowed to leave the centre only accompanied by the social assistents and they are able to use their phones only 2 hours per day. In October 2022 Save the Children bought a TV for them. During 2022, there were 6 unaccompanied minors accommodated at DGASPC. It was also reported that the representative of he DGASPC centre allowed 4 children (not related) to leave with a Romanian man who presented a power of attorney from Syria.

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 2022 there were no children accommodated at the family house managed by Somaschi. In the regional centre unaccompanied children are accommodated separately.

Galaţi: In 2022, it was reported that only two unaccompanied children were accomodated at DGASPC day and the night shelter for homeless children, under the authority of DGASPC. They were taken over by DGASPC in 2021.

Rădăuţi: Unaccompanied children are no longer accommodated in the Solca Placement Centreas 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. Some children complained about the food quality. The JRS representative reported that not all unaccompanied children’s care was taken over by DGASPC. It was also reported by another stakeholder that the minors leave the centre before the necessary administrative steps are taken. Two minors specifically requested to be accommodated in the DGASPC centre, but they were refused because they needed the space for minors under the age of 16. There is no interpreter, but when necessary IGI-DAI’s interpreters could be requested. The activities organised in the centre are not adapted to the needs of unaccompanied minors. Unaccompanied children under 16 years of age declared verbally 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. In 2022 there were no children accommodated at DGASPC.

Giurgiu: 10 unaccompanied minors under the age of 16, were taken over by DGASPC.

Bucharest: In 2022 unaccompanied children were also accommodated in the Ciresarii Emergency Reception Center of DGASPC District 5, according to the director.

According to the director of the Vasile Stolnicu centre four unaccompanied children under the age of 16 were accommodated in DGAPSC centre.

According to IGI-DAI, 89 unaccompanied children were accommodated in DGASPC centres in 2022. At the end of the year there were 15 minors left in DGASPC centres.[11]


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.

In Şomcuta Mare, 40 children were accommodated, if they were accompanied by relatives they were accommodated in the same room, if not they were placed together with other children.

In Giurgiu, 178 unaccompanied children over the age of 16 were accommodated in the regional centre, according to the director. He further mentioned that if they are accompanied by adult relatives they are accommodated together.

In Galati, 60 unaccompanied children were accommodated in the centre. If they were accompanied by adults they were placed together with the adults.

In Bucharest, 92 unaccompanied children were accommodated in Tudor Gociu during the year.

In 2019, a total of 230 unaccompanied children were accommodated in Regional Centres.[12] At the end of 2020, 412 unaccompanied children were accommodated in Regional Centres.[13] In 2021, IGI-DAI reported a total number of 2,630 of unaccompanied children accommodated in the regional centres.[14] In 2022, the number of unaccompanied minors decreased significantly to 386 and at the end of the year 26 unaccompanied minors were accommodated in the regional centres.[15]


Reception of families

Efforts are made to ensure that nuclear families can stay together during the asylum procedure. Families are accommodated in separate rooms. In 2022, families were accommodated separately in Bucharest, the director said.

In Galaţi, if there were available places families were accommodated separately.

In Şomcuta Mare, families are accommodated separately from the other residents.

Timișoara: families are accommodated separately if there are available places. In 2022 the centre was not overcrowded.

In Rădăuţi families are in general accommodated separately, but also with other persons. The building designed for vulnerable persons was not used as the medical office flooded when the showers were used.

Beyond the Regional Centres managed by IGI-DAI, AIDRom used to run two Accommodation Centres: one Accommodation Centre in Timișoara, which has operated without interruption since August 2012 with a capacity of 15 places; and one Accommodation Centre in Bucharest, which has operated 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.

In 2022, according to the director of Timişoara, 26 asylum seekers were accommodated in the AIDRom centre in Timişoara. IGI-DAI reported that 85 persons were accommodated in both centres during 2022 and at the end of the year there were 14 persons accommodated.[16] According to AIRDrom representative in Timişoara, in December 2022, the persons accommodated in the centre had to leave as the project was finalised and no more funding was available.




[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] Ombudsman, Report, 2021, p.7, availablein Romanian at: https://bit.ly/3DZGvA7

[7] Article 60 ROI.

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

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

[10] Article 58(4) Asylum Decree.

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

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

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

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

[15] Information provided by IGI-DAI, 22 February 2023.

[16] Information provided by IGI-DAI, 22 February 2023.

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