Central Europe’s regional office
At the Röszke’s train station, Hungary, young refugees wait for the departure of their train chartered by the Hungarian authorities, in order to reach to the Austrian border, on September 14, 2015. ©Olivier Laban-Mattei
UNHCR has been present in Central Europe since the early 1990s, and has had an office in Budapest since 1989. In 2005, the Budapest office became the Regional Representation for Central Europe (RRCE).
Originally, the Budapest office oversaw UNHCR operations Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. In 2008, Romania and Bulgaria became part of the office’s responsibilities. The Czech Republic was added in 2009, Croatia in 2014, and Moldova in 2016, making the office responsible for nine countries in total.
There is a representation or a national office in each country with the exception of Slovakia. There are also field offices in Timisoara, Romania, and in Humenné, Slovakia to ensure the effective operation of UNHCR-funded Emergency Transit Centres (ETCs), where refugees evacuated from dangerous situations for resettlement.
The role of the Regional Representation for Central Europe is to assist, advise and advocate for governments and NGOs to do the following:
- Ensure asylum-seekers can gain access to EU territory, and are able to lodge an asylum application.
- Monitor and improve living conditions of asylum-seekers in reception centres and other refugee facilities, and ensure they are treated with respect, particularly where age, gender, diversity and special needs are issues of concern;
- Ensure that refugee determination procedures are fair and efficient, and that asylum legislation and the work of asylum authorities reflect international legal standards;
- Put in place functioning integration and resettlement policies and programmes, and promote a social climate that welcomes refugees, and rejects xenophobia and racism.
The regional office also monitors the extent of statelessness throughout the region, and advocates for laws, policies and procedures to resolve individual cases of statelessness as well as reducing the possibility of it occurring in the future.
All activities are accompanied by public information, public awareness and external relations initiatives, including eight websites on the region and its member countries in order to promote solutions for the displaced.
In addition to its advisory and advocacy work, this office oversees regional programmes and operations, and conducts administrative and financial oversight for the country offices it is responsible for.