Romania: Evacuation transit centre to be established

Briefing Notes, 9 May 2008

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 9 May 2008, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

An evacuation transit centre for people in urgent need of international protection will be established in Romania, according to an agreement signed in Bucharest yesterday by the Romanian government, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The centre the first of its kind in Europe will be located in the city of Timisoara and accommodate up to 200 people. It will provide a temporary safe haven with effective and immediate protection for individuals or groups who need to be evacuated immediately from life-threatening situations before being resettled to other countries.

We are grateful to the government of Romania for this important contribution to our efforts to protect refugees against forced return and other threats to their physical safety.

Resettlement countries have pledged their support for this initiative and we are now calling on other governments to provide financial assistance to support the centre.

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Out of Harm's Way in Romania

Peaceful days and a safe environment is probably more than these Palestinian and Sudanese refugees expected when they were stuck in a desert camp in Iraq. Now they are recovering at a special transit centre in the Romanian city of Timisoara while their applications for resettlement in a third country are processed.

Most people forced to flee their homes are escaping from violence or persecution, but some find themselves still in danger after arriving at their destination. UNHCR uses the centre in Romania to bring such people out of harm's way until they can be resettled.

The Emergency Transit Centre (ETC) in Timisoara was opened in 2008. Another one will be formally opened in Humenné, Slovakia, within the coming weeks. The ETC provides shelter and respite for up to six months, during which time the evacuees can prepare for a new life overseas. They can attend language courses and cultural orientation classes.

Out of Harm's Way in Romania