Summary of the national legislation on refugees
In the national legislation, the legal regime of foreigners seeking international protection in Romania, the legal regime of foreigners beneficiaries of international protection in Romania, the procedure of granting, ceasing and cancellation of international protection in Romania, the procedure for establishing the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application and granting conditions, the exclusion and termination of temporary protection are regulated by Law no. 122/2006 and the Methodological Norms for its implementation, constituting the primary legislation in this area.
From the analysis of these normative acts results that the forms of protection granted to foreigners by the Romanian state consist in international protection and temporary protection.
International protection is represented by the refugee status or thestatus conferred by the subsidiary protection and it it granted indefinitely.
The refugee status is recognized, upon request, to a foreign citizen who, after a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinions or allegianceto a particular social group, is outside his country of origin and is unable or, because of this fear, is unwilling to request protection of the country and to also to a stateless person who, being outside the country of his former habitual residence because of the reasons mentioned above, is unable or, because of this fear, is unwilling to return to that country.
One must distinguish between the terms asylum seeker and refugee,because these concepts are often confused. Thus, the asylum seeker is the person claiming to qualify for being a refugee and wantsto obtain a form of international protection. Therefore, in order to gain refugee status, the person will initially have the status of asylum seeker. Not every asylum seeker will be eventually recognized as a refugee. Throughout the period of settlement of the application, that person is called an asylum seeker.
Subsidiary protection is granted to the foreign citizen or stateless person who does not qualify for refugee status and on which there are reasonable grounds to believe that, if returned to his country of origin or the country of his former habitual residence, will be exposed to a serious risk that can not or, because of that risk, does not want the protection of that country.
Serious risk means: convictionto the death penalty or execution of such punishment; torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; a serious individual threat to life or integrity, as a result togeneralized violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict, if the applicant is part of the civilian population.
On the other hand, temporary protection is the exceptional procedure to provide, in the event of a mass influx or an imminently massive influx of displaced persons from third countries who can not return to their country of origin, immediate and temporary protection to such people, especially if there is a risk that the asylum system can not process this influx without adverse effects for its efficient functioning, in the interests of the concerned persons and other persons in need of protection.
Now, given the presentation of the forms of protection granted and to define the basics regarding this area, we will analyze below the asylum procedure provided by the Romanian legislation, starting from the filing date until the settlement, including the rights and obligations the asylum seeker has and subsequently the beneficiary of a form of protection, the appeals which he may execute against the adopted solutions on the asylum application, as well as the cessation and cancellation methods for international protection in Romania.
Refugee life 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.
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 — 10 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.
Source: Romanian News Agency AGERPRES. Link: http://www.agerpres.ro/english/2015/08/28/immigration-how-asylum-seekers-are-received-in-romania-14-58-02
The legal process
To legally prove that he/she deserves refugee status, the applicant needs to show that he/she cannot return to his/her country of origin because he/she would face persecution for various of reasons: political opinion, race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, membership to a particular group – something which cannot be changed, like homosexuality. Another example in this sense can be women in Islam countries.
Unfortunately a very small number of people have documentary evidence that can prove that they are refugees. This makes the task of interviewers much harder, because they have to take into account statements, evidence and documents when deciding if a person is eligible for a refugee permit.
Regarding the lawyer issue, a person whose application was refused (see question no 5) is allowed to hire a lawyer. If they cannot afford a lawyer sometimes they can get it from an NGO or UNHCR, other times the lawyer is provided pro bono from the states. There is even an EU fund for these situations.
If the person is rejected, while it depends on the reasons for this refusal, Romania allows for three types of appeal: judiciary, recourse and tribunal.
Asylum law is not so prominent. Most lawyers who work in this area do so for reasons of social justice, because is not paid well.
Source: interview Lorett Jesudoss (see Interview section)
The competent authorities ensure the access to the asylum procedure to any foreign citizen or stateless person on the Romanian territory or at the border, since the manifestation of will, expressed in writing or orally, showing that herequests the protectionof the Romanian state, without discrimination, regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, social status, belief, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, non-contagious disease, HIV infection or belonging to a disadvantaged category, financial situation, status at birth or acquired status or any other distinction.
Also,within the asylum procedure are considered safety measures and additional guarantees for certain categories of people, which is why going through the asylum procedure is performed by taking into consideration the special needs of vulnerable people.
In the category of vulnerable persons are included minors, unaccompanied minors, disabled people, the elderly, pregnant women, single parents with their minor children, victims of 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 under other special circumstances.
The membership to the category of vulnerable people is determined after applying for asylum, as soon as possible, by specialists from the General Inspectorate for Immigration, based on an individual assessment.
Asylum claims formulated by these categories of people will be handled with priority, the necessary care will be ensured, tutors or guardians will be named for ensuring representation and there will be taken measures provided by law that are necessary to protect their rights.
It is also guaranteed the respect for family unity and best interests of the minor, and confidentiality. All data and information on the asylum application are confidential. The obligation to respect the confidentiality applies to every authority, every organization carrying out activities in the asylum field or any third parties involved in the asylum procedure or who accidentally comes into possession of such data.
Submission of asylum application
A person is considered asylum seeker from the moment of will manifestation, expressed in writing or orally, before the competent authorities, showing that it solicits the protection of the Romanian state.
The asylum application is submitted as soon as:
a) the applicant has attended to a checkpoint for crossing the state border, including the transit area;
b) the applicant has entered the Romanian territory;
c) certain events occurred in the country of origin of the applicant, which causes him to seek protection for the foreigner with theright tostay in Romania.
Applications for asylum submitted outside of Romania are not admitted.
The competent authorities cannot refuse to accept the application for asylum on the grounds that it was filed late.
The asylum application must be filled out in Romanian or in a language that the applicant understands, it is individual and personally submitted by the applicant or by the trustee or legal representative. Collective asylum applications are not accepted.
After recording the application for international protection at the General Inspectorate for Immigration or its territorial authorities, the asylum seeker is listened to establish personal data of him, of his family members, relatives or any other persons in a relationship of family nature with him,of his route from the country of origin to Romania, of any information on previous asylum procedures conducted in another Member State or in a third country and regarding identity or travel documents in its possession.
Competent authorities examining applications for asylum investigate any factual and legal circumstances which may lead to solving the case, even if those circumstances had not been raised or mentioned in the request for asylum or complaint.
Application for asylum submitted by a foreigner who benefits from international protection granted by another Member State is dismissed as inadmissible. However, the applicant is given the opportunity to present, in an interview, their personal situation and if the facts or evidence submitted by the applicant show that there is a well-founded fear of persecution or being exposed to a serious risk in the Member State that granted international protection and / or the applicant does not benefit of the effective protection in the concerned Member State, their application will not be rejected as inadmissible for this reason.
The competent authorities that receive applications for asylum are the Romanian Immigration Officestructures, Romanian Border Police structures, police units where are established and where are operating detention and remand centers and the structures of the National Administration of Penitentiaries within the Ministry of Justice.
Information and counseling on access to the asylum procedure
If there are elements that lead to the idea that foreigners held in detention and remand centers, in prison, in border crossings or in the transit areas, intend to seek international protection in Romania, the staff from the competent authorities provide information regarding the possibility of submitting an application in this regard.
Photographing and fingerprinting the asylum seekers
With the asylum application, the General Inspectorate for Immigration or other competent authorities photograph and fingerprint all asylum seekers who, according to their statements, are over 14 years old.
Taken fingerprints are sent, compared, searched and stored on paper in filing cabinets of the General Inspectorate for Immigration and in electronic format in the national AFIS database (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) and also in the Eurodac system according to the Eurodac Regulation.
Interviewing, analyzing the given reasons and the decision on asylum applications are within the competence of the Romanian Immigration Office. These activities are performed by specially appointed officials.
Romanian Immigration Office may request any public institutions, agencies or organizations operating in Romania, anyneeded documents to analyze the situation and settlement of the asylum applicant, respectingtheir confidentiality. In these cases, the consent of the applicant is not needed.
Interview for determining international protection
The interview for determining international protection in Romania consists in a hearing of the applicant by an official of the General Inspectorate for Immigration. For an adequate examination, when deemed necessary, an official may request the participation of some family members of the interviewed asylum seeker, with the consent of the latter.
Upon request and when considered necessary to present all the arguments claiming asylum, the interview is carried out with the assistance of an interpreter in the language indicated by the applicant or in a language which he understands and can communicate clearly. Where possible, if the applicant requestsso, both the interpreter and the official will be the same gender as the person being interviewed.
The presumption of good faith
When some or all the reasonsinvoked in the asylum application that would justify granting a form of protection are not proved with documents or other evidence, it is granted the presumption of good faith, if the following conditions are fulfilled:
a) the applicant has made every effort to support his asylum application ;
b) all relevant elements available to the applicant were presented and the lack of such items was reasonably justified;
c) the applicant’s statements are found to be coherent and plausible and are not contradictedby general and specific information, relevant to their request;
d) the applicant has applied for asylum as soon as possible and any delay is justified by good reasons;
e) the general credibility of the applicant has been established.
Examining an asylum application
The decision on processing the asylum application is taken after a proper examination of the applicant’s situation by specially appointed officials qualified in asylum issues. This includes: individual examination of each asylum application and making an objective and impartial decision and consulting the information from the country of origin and, if necessary, fromtransited countries,obtained from different sources, necessary for evaluating personal circumstances of the asylum applicant.
Any application for asylum is reviewed individually and sequentially from the perspective of refugee status and of subsidiary protection.
In the process of analysing the application, the competent authorities may determine that an applicant does not need international protection in Romania, when in a part of his country of origin are not good reasons to be exposed to acts of persecution or a serious risk or when they have access to protection against such acts.
In this situation, it will be determined whether the applicant can travel safely to that part of their country of origin in order to settle there, taking into consideration the general existing conditions in the part of the country of origin considered to be safe, and the applicant’s personal situation, based on accurate and current information obtained from relevant sources such as High Commissioner of the United Nations Organization for Refugees.
The deadline for settling
The specially appointed official interviews, analyzes the reasons given by the applicant and decides over the application, within 30 days from taking the case.
If the settlement of the application requires additional documentation, and also in other duly justified cases, making it impossible to perform the necessary activities for solving the application, the deadline is extended successively by further periods of maximum 30 days, whitout exceeding 6 months after the asylum application. This period may be extended with new periods that cumulateddon’t exceed nine months, in the following situations:
a) asylum procedure involves complex elements of fact and / or law; or
b) a large number of foreigners simultaneously request international protection, which in practice makes it difficult settling their claims at the administrative stage within 6 months.
In practice, these limits are exceeded constantly, the average period tosettle such a request in Romania being 10 months, as reflected in the Government Resolution approved on 01/19/2016 within the first meeting of the government this year.
Being that sanctions are not provided, these terms may be regarded as recommendation deadlines,being at the discretion of the competent institutions or the official designated for resolving the request to comply or not with the legal deadlines for resolving the asylum procedure.
So, although,according to the law, exceeding the maximum period of nine months for processing the asylum application can only be done in exceptional circumstances, in reality there are very few situations where it is given a solution within the legal deadline of 30 days, normalcy being in fact, the exception.
In order to fulfill the necessary formalities, reduce abuses to the asylum procedure, and if a threat to national security, based on an analysis of individual, competent authorities may apply to applicants for international protection, restrictive measures, such as:
- ordered to appear at the headquarters of the General Inspectorate for Immigration structure;
- up residence in a regional center procedures and accommodation of asylum seekers;
- placement in confined spaces specially arranged;
- making or keeping in detention.
We believe that this regulation is pretty vague, is not very clear what does it mean to reduce abuses according to the legislator. In these circumstances, the persons designated in the competent institutions could have complete freedom to decide against which asylum seekers should be taken a restrictive measure, which could lead to further abuses, from the authorities this time, created by the desire to limit alleged abuses of the asylum seekers.
The Official designated with the examination of the asylum request has to issue a decision that either recognize refugee status or subsidiary protection granted or reject the application for asylum.
The decision to grant subsidiary protection reasons include denial of refugee status and the decision to reject the asylum application contains adequate reasons for each form of protection and the indication on the obligation to leave Romania.
Against the decision to grant subsidiary protection and against the decision to reject the asylum application may be submitted a complaint within 10 days of notification.
The applicant has the right to remain on Romanian territory during the settlement of the complaint.
The complaint is settled by the court in whose territorial jurisdiction the specialized structure on asylum issues of the Romanian Immigration Office which issued the decision.
The court resolves the complaint within 30 days of its receipt and will motivate the decision made within 5 days after judgment.
The appellant or the Romanian Immigration Office can appeale the Court judgment within five days.
The applicant has the right to remain on Romanian territory during the appeal settlement.
The appeal shall be heard within 30 days of its registration by the court – administrative contentious – in whose jurisdiction is the court whose decision is being appealed.
After completion of the asylum procedure in the case of an foreigner who has not obtained international protection, the General Inspectorate for Immigration issue the return decision containing an obligation to leave Romania immediately or in maximum 15 days.
The causes for exclusion from refugee status and subsidiary protection
Refugee status is not recognized to foreigners and stateless persons regarding whom there are serious reasons to believe that:
a) committed a crime against peace and humanity, a war crime or another crime defined in relevant international treaties to which Romania is a party or another international document that Romania is bound to respect;
b) committed a serious non-political crime outside Romania before being admitted to the Romanian state;
c) committed acts that are contrary to the purposes and principles as they are laid down in art. 1 and 2 of the UN Charter;
d) instigated or abetted the commission of the acts were referred to in subparagraph needle).
It also does not recognize refugee status for foreigners and stateless persons who planned, facilitated or participated in the commission of terrorist acts, as defined in international instruments to which Romania is a party.
Refugee status does not recognize foreign citizens and stateless persons having permanent residence in another state, are considered by the competent authorities of that State as operating rights and obligations arising from the nationality of the State or enjoy rights and obligations equivalent.
Cessation and cancellation of international protection
Refugee status ceases if he:
a) was reinstated voluntarily under the protection of the country of his nationality; or
b) after he lost his nationality, he has voluntarily acquired; or
c) has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the State whose nationality has acquired; or
d) it was voluntarily re-established in the country which he left or outside which he remained as a result of the reasons for which he was recognized as a refugee; or
e) can not continue to refuse protection of the country of his nationality, because the circumstances in which he was recognized as a refugee have ceased to exist, and can not invoke to justify this refusal, compelling reasons relate to persecution above. These provisions shall not apply to a person that was recognized as a refugee and who, for compelling reasons arising out of previous persecution relates to refuse protection of the country of his nationality;
f) being a stateless person, he is unable to return to his country of habitual residence, being no circumstances in which was recognized as a refugee. These provisions shall not apply to a person that was recognized as a refugee and who, for compelling reasons arising out of previous persecution concerns, refuses to return the land that normally reside.
g) expressly waived in writing to refugee status recognized by the Romanian state. Refugee status is informed in a language that he understand or there are reasonably assume that he understands, of the consequences of the act of renunciation.
Annulment of refugee status and subsidiary protection
Refugee status is canceled when the person who has been granted international protection gave false statements, omitted to present certain data or used false documents, were decisive for the recognition form of protection, and there are no other reasons which lead to maintain a form of prote.
Interview with Mihai Dobai, Romanian student who saw from close the refugee crisis
In Romania the refugee crisis has held breaking news status more than once in 2015. Most of the stories that came from this ongoing crisis are negative in tone and focus. But they are more or less based on opinions of people, who had ignored until last year, wars in the Middle East and had based their opinions on the influx of migrants based on stereotypes and bad examples.
On the contrary, some people who possessed detailed knowledge on the events in Syria or Lybia tended to use a more moderate tone when discussing the refugee issue. Mihai Dobai is one of them. He majored the Faculty of Geography of the Oradea University with a thesis focusing on the Arab Spring’s effects on tourism in MENA countries. And he advanced his studies in the summer of 2015 through the Erasmus program, where he had the opportunity to study at the Harran University affording him a first row seat to witness to the mass exile to Europe.
So, naturally, taking into account Mihai’s knowledge and experience, we approached him for an interview to record his opinion about the refugee crisis and his preferred solutions towards ameliorating its negative effects and putting and end to it.
Tell us your story. How did you end up this summer as an eye witness to the refugee crisis?
I chose to go with the Erasmus+ Placement programme and our faculty’s Erasmus Coordinator told me that there is an opportunity to go to Harran University in Șanliurfa.
What did you know about the refugee crisis before going to Şanliurfa and Akcakale?
Yes, I knew about the ongoing war in the region, I actually chose Urfa as the destination of the traineeship I have done because I wanted to study more in depth about this issue and to get to know it from another point of view. But in that time the European refugee crisis had just started and it was about to reach its peak meanwhile I was in Turkey.
What was your first impression when you went to Akcakale? How did the people treat you, as a foreigner? What was their opinion about the people fleeing their countries?
In Akcakale, the Turkish bordering city, I have been only once to see the surroundings, the border and one of the refugee camps installed there by the Turkish government. I went there by car with one of my professors from Harran University and I did not have the chance to talk to anybody. Moreover the streets were mostly empty, the atmosphere was desolate, and everything seemed abandoned even though the inhabitants were still trying to have a normal life.
Did you engage in conversations with refugees? How was their morale? What where they expecting from their new life?
I tried to speak with as many refugees as possible and I can see that all of them seemed worried about their future, their new life and were hoping to return to their homeland where not a long time ago they had pictured that their future will be. One of the refugees was also working on mental health issues with other refugees and confesed that many of them are having a hard time and have low morale.
Now that you had a first row experience to the refugee crisis, what do you think about the measures that the EU took regarding this issue?
I think that the EU was caught unprepared by this crisis and it tried to respond punctually to the crisis but without having a coherent plan and without collaboration between its member states or between its member states and the non EU member states which played an important role in the transition of the refugees towards their destination.
In Romania recent polls show that there is a strong anti-migrant sentiment. In your opinion, how can that be changed?
First of all should be reminded that there are more than 3 million Romanian migrants and most of the Romanians currently living in Romania have relatives or know someone who lives or had lived in another country. Even though we are talking about refugees, not about economic migrants, comparing the life of the Romanians abroad with the one a refugee has to live fleeing his/her country might make the people more empathic. Secondly, it is a humanitary issue and as a society believing in human rights should be informed correctly by different NGO’s and Associations fighting for the cause of spreading democratic values. Anyhow, I still believe that our society will be reticent at the beggining to receive refugees in our country but this can change through the power of good example/practices and accurate information provided by the media.
Tell us some solutions that you see towards ending this crisis.
The root cause, namely the war, must be tackled first in order to stop the flux of refugees and to start creating the premises for the current refugees to return to their country. But because there is an actual influx of refugees which requires the attention of the EU, it should collaborate internally to adapt a common refugee and asylum policy, cooperate with the transitory non-EU countries, enhance the cooperation between the EU members, help the overcrowded hotstop countries that cannot bear the burden by themselves and establish safe routes in order to avoid drownings in the Mediterranean.
Since the summer, when you visited Turkey, things have gotten much more tense in Syria, after the Russian intervention, the Paris terrorist attacks and the conflict regarding the Russian fighter jet brought down by the Turkish Air Force. How do you think that all these events affect the refugee crisis?
The situation evolving into a more tense one might provoke another flow of refugees especially when the weather gets warmer and they can travel towards Europe, but also by bringing the situation into the attention of major international actors, the root cause might be stopped by a common effort and the situation can start to develop in favour of the Syrians who do not want to leave their homes.
Do you want to get back to Southern Turkey next summer?
Southern Turkey was a very hospitable place for me and I was well welcomed there so I would be out of my mind to refuse such an opportunity if I get it. But next summer I do not think that it will be possible to return for being busy with studies and other projects.
Interview with Lorett Jesudoss, protection officer at UNHCR Romania
Before the refugee crisis reached a great level of hype in the media, in April 2015, I had the opportunity to interview Lorett Jesudoss, the protection officer of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representation in Romania. She offered me all the details regarding the technical aspect of the refugee selection and kindly responded to all of my questions about the situation of the refugees in Romania. Mind you that some of the numbers might be today inaccurate, because the interview was taken about nine months ago. But it is still a valuable piece of information for those who are interested in the asylum process for Romania.
1.What is the role of UNHCR in Romania?
When first established in 1991, the UN Refugee Agency in Romania assumed the role of offering direct assistance to refugees. In recent times the role of this agency has become more complex and has expanded to include: advocacy for the refugee cause, working with the government towards better legislation on the issues of refugees and humanitarian causes, offering expertise to the General Inspectorate of Migration (Inspectoratul General pentru Imigratii IGI), to basically set up the system for refugees in the country.
UNHCR’s role has evolved to keep pace with the asylum system in Romania. In actuality, Romania’s first law for asylum seekers was based on EU legislation in 2006. Since then the UNHCR has at various times commented on the laws governing refugees and to offer advice on this subject.
The Agency also helps NGO’s working on issues around refugees and helps them to become involved in more direct activities.
So, basically, UNHCR has an active presence, or at least influence, in the Romanian legislative process for asylum seekers from beginning to end.
2. How many refugees are in Romania and which are the countries they come from?
From 1991 until April 2015 there were approximately 26.000 applications for asylum in Romania, 2.500 of these were reapplications. Compared to other European countries, the numbers are modest. The record number of asylum seekers was in 2013, with 2.511 applications.
Also, from the 26.000 applications only approx. 5.400 were accepted. Almost 1.500 refugees were accepted in 2013-2014. But not all the people who are accepted in Romania decide to stay. As of December 2014 there were 2,182 registered persons who held a valid permit.