Immigration: How asylum seekers are received in Romania

The cases of foreigners which enter Romania via legal or illegal means are handled by the General Inspectorate for Immigration (IGI), which operates six Regional Centers for Accommodation and Asylum Seekers in Bucharest and in Timis, Maramures, Suceava, Galati and Giurgiu counties, with a total capacity of over 1000 places, reveals an analysis published by Agerpres.

These centers process asylum applications submitted by foreigners who are in Romania or at its borders, provide assistance and accommodation to applicants who do not have the means to support themselves as well as to refugees and people requiring subsidiary protection. The centers are open-door and asylum seekers are provided legal stay throughout the asylum procedure.

Asylum centers are provided with medical practices, rooms designed for recreation, sports and educational activities.

According to Law no.122/2006 on asylum in Romania, including amendments and supplements, asylum seekers receive an amount of 3 lei/day/person for food, 1.8 lei/day/person for accommodation and 0.6 lei/day/person for other expenses. They also benefit from free primary medical care and emergency hospital care, as well as free treatment in case of acute or chronic diseases.

Other benefits include access to compulsory primary education for children, participating in activities of cultural integration, access to the labour market after one year since the date of submission of the asylum request (in cases when the asylum procedure has not been finalized.

In accommodation centers, the rooms offer up to 10 places. In practice, the number of places can differ, according to the nature of groups accommodated (men, women, families or families with children etc.).

In Galati, Timisoara, Radauti (Suceava), Somcuta Mare (Maramures) and Giurgiu, bathrooms are communal but separate for men and women; in the Bucharest, every room has its own bathroom (toilet and shower). All centers have medical practices.

All accommodation centers are provided with spaces for preparing food and laundry machines. The asylum seekers have the obligation to provide cleaning services in the communal areas, such as kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, on a rotating basis.

According to the procedure upon arrival to the center, firstly, asylum seekers are informed on their rights and obligations and regarding the procedures to follow. They get fingerprinted and photographed, then receive a temporary ID certifying the status of asylum seeker and the right to stay on the Romanian territory until the decision regarding their request becomes final.

The procedure also provides for a medical examination, on which occasion it is assessed whether the person in question suffers from a medical condition and if there are clues as to whether the person in question is a torture victim or has been subject to inhuman or degrading treatment.

Further, the asylum seekers are assigned to one of the accommodation areas. They each receive two bed sheets, a pillow case and objects for personal hygiene, such as soap, toothpaste, tooth brushes, shaving cream and razors, as well as dishes to cook and eat with.

The six centers have an open door policy so that individuals who request asylum can leave the center, provided that they follow the internal code of rules. In general, access to and from centers is made daily, between 6 am – 22 pm.

Asylum seekers can leave their place of residence provided that they receive approval from the administration. If they possess the means to support themselves, they are free to change their residence, provided that they inform IGI workers.

Governmental assistance to individuals which received a form of protection has as a purpose their integration in Romanian society. The general objective of integration policies is to help refugees to become self-sufficient and independent from the assistance provided by the state or NGOs and to actively participate in Romanian society, economically, socially and culturally.

According to current legislation, individuals who have received a form of protection benefit from the same economic and social rights as Romanian citizens: the right to work, accommodation, healthcare and social assistance, social insurance and education.

In order to support the integration of this category of individuals, IGI runs integration programmes held over six months, with a possibility of extension to one year. During this period, the refugees benefit from accommodation in one of the centers administered by IGI and receive material support for two months, the amount being equal to that of asylum seekers, cultural orientation courses, social counselling and psychological support as well as Romanian language courses.

When individuals receiving a form of protection fall under the category of special cases – disabled individuals, individuals who are eligible for pension due to age but are not receiving it, unaccompanied minors, torture victims and/or single parents and their children – they can benefit from the extension of their integration programme until it established that the state of vulnerability has been overcome.

Similarly, through Employment Agencies, individuals receiving a form of protection benefit from the amount of 540 lei in irredeemable material support for six months, with the possibility of extension to nine months.

In addition to governmental assistance, NGOs implementing running projects funded through the European Refugee Fund provide several means of assistance, from medical and psychological assistance and facilitating access to education and the healthcare system to access to the labour market and providing food, clothing, footwear and household products.

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