Refugees from Myanmar arrive in Bucharest as Romania joins ranks of resettlement countries

News Stories, 8 June 2010

© Romanian Red Cross
Some of the Kachin refugees after arrival in Bucharest on June 1, 2010.

BUCHAREST, Romania, June 8 (UNHCR) Romania has become one of the few countries in the world to accept refugees for resettlement, following the recent arrival in the European country of 38 people originating from Myanmar.

The refugees, including eight children, flew to Bucharest from Malaysia on May 31 and June 1 under legislation adopted by Romania in December 2008. This provides for Romania to accept up to 40 refugees for resettlement each year.

Machiel Salomons, UNHCR's representative in Romania, noting that the refugee agency had been forced to enhance its resettlement efforts, said "Romania's contribution in this regard is both timely and very much appreciated."

The group of 38 refugees, all ethnic Kachin, are currently staying at the Regional Centre for Accommodation and Asylum Procedures in Galati, a city in eastern Romania. The facility is run by the Romanian Immigration Office (RIO). The resettlement was organized by the RIO in close cooperation with UNHCR and the Romanian Red Cross.

Under Romanian law, the resettled refugees will be entitled to the same rights as Romanian citizens, save for politically related ones. In Galati, they will receive language and cultural orientation courses as well as being informed of their legal rights.

They will also receive support from UNHCR and its partners, including Save the Children Romania and the Jesuit Refugee Service Romania. The refugees will be able to stay in the centre for up to one year as they are helped to become self-sufficient.

Romania also hosts a landmark Emergency Transit Centre, which was opened in the city of Timisoara in late 2008 to provide a temporary haven for refugees in urgent need of evacuation from their first asylum countries due to life-threatening conditions. More than 600 refugees have transited the centre.

Last year, a total of 995 asylum applications were recorded in Romania, slightly down on 2008. During the same year, a total of 94 people were granted some form of protection (refugee status or subsidiary protection).

By Claudia Liute in Bucharest, Romania