Special reception needs of vulnerable groups


Country Report: Special reception needs of vulnerable groups Last updated: 31/05/22


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] What is more, during their visit in the regional centre of Timisoara, 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]

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. According to the director of Timisoara regional centre around 200 asylum seeking children under the age of 16 were taken over by DGASPC in general in the same day they arrived. Conversely the JRS representative pointed out that they were accommodated in the regional centre, but not for long because they were transferred or left the centre with the adults. During 2021, there were 3 unaccompanied minors (age 9, 12 and 15) who stayed for longer at DGASPC.

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 2021 the majority of unaccompanied minors were accommodated in the regional centre. Around eight children were accommodated at the family house managed by Somaschi. In the regional centre unaccompanied children are accommodated separately

Galaţi: In 2020, it was reported that no unaccompanied child’s care was taken over by DGASPC in the day and night shelter for homeless children, under the authority of DGASPC. All children uner the age of 16 were accommodated in the regional centre. No social examination was conducted by DGASPC in order to evaluate what was in his or her best interest, with regards to their housing.  The reason for this is the lack of places in their accommodation centres so it is better for the unaccompanied children to stay in the regional centre. The same was reported in 2021 when unaccompanied children were also accommodated with adults.

The JRS representative mentioned that the care of only two unaccompanied minors under the age of 16 was taken over by DGASPC but only after they were granted a form of protection and were thrown out of their accommodation by the persons who were taking care of them. The unaccompanied minors arrived at the centre with a group of people. At first, they stayed in the centre, until a man and woman with whom they had arrived, took them to live with them outside the centre. They were taken by these two persons without a court order establishing parental authority.

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. In 2021 asylum seeking children were also accommodated in Siret, located 20 km from Radauti.  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.

Giurgiu: Out of the total of 58 unaccompanied minors under the age of 16, for whom steps were taken regarding the takeover of their care and transfer to the DGASPC centers, only three were actually taken, the others had already left the centre, according to the director of the centre.

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 the Gavroche Day Centre within DGASPC District 2. In 2021 unaccompanied children were also accommodated in the Ciresarii Emergency Reception Center of DGASPC District 5, according to the JRS representative.

According to the director of the Vasile Stolnicu centre 54 unaccompanied children under the age of 16 were accommodated in the regional centre and requests for DGAPSC to take over their care were made, but the majority left the regional centre before they were accommodated at DGASPC centres.

In February 2020, UNHCR notified the Romanian Ombudsman about the situation of a number of asylum-seeking children under 16 years of age accommodated in Stolnicu Regional Centre because DGASPC District 2 Bucharest had 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 were completely inadequate for a decent life and breach 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 the centre would be renovated in 2020. [11] It has been under renovation since the summer of 2021.

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 overcrowded as stated by UNHCR in their notification.[12]

According to IGI-DAI, 98 unaccompanied children were accommodated in DGASPC centres in 2020:[13] As for 2021, IGI-DAI reported that they have no statistics.[14]

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.

The director of Stolnicu Regional Centre reported that in 2021 there were around 238 unaccompanied minors registered in the centre. They are accommodated together or separated from adults, according to their preference. In Somcuta Mare the same situation was reported.

In Giurgiu, 232 unaccompanied children over the age of 16 were accommodated in the regional centre, according to the director. She further mentioned that if they are accompanied by adult relatives they are accommodated together.

In 2019, a total of 230 unaccompanied children were accommodated in Regional Centres.[15] At the end of 2020, 412 unaccompanied children were accommodated in Regional Centres.[16] In 2021, IGI-DAI reported a total number of 2,630 of unaccompanied children accommodated in the regional centres.[17]

Occupancy at the end of 2021
Bucharest 250
Giurgiu 360
Galaţi 373
Rădăuţi 7
Şomcuta Mare 3
Timișoara 1225
Total 412

Source: IGI-DAI.


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 2021, families were accommodated together with women in Bucharest.

In Galaţi, if there were available places families were accommodated separately. In 2021 when the number of asylum seekers was high families were accommodated in the same room.  Single women are accommodated with single mothers with children; single mothers with boys are accommodated with other families or women.

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

Timișoara: families are accommodated separately if there are available places. In 2020 and 2021 due to the high number of asylum seekers, asylum seekers were also sleeping in the kitchen.

In Rădăuţi families are in general 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 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.

AIDRom reported that in 2020, approximately 25 asylum seekers were accommodated in the 2 AIDRom centers. In Bucharest they accommodated families who remained there for almost 1 year, until they finalised the asylum procedure.[18]

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 in these centres.[19] As for 2021, IGI-DAI reported that they have no statistics on the number of asylum seekers accommodated in these centres[20] and AIDRom did not provide any information on this either.




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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