Agreement on first European Evacuation Transit Centre signed in Bucharest
Thursday 8, May 2008 PRESS RELEASE – Bucharest, May 8 (UNHCR/IOM/Romanian Interior Minister) – On the 8th of May the Minister of Interior and Administration Reform, Mr. Cristian David will sign, in Bucharest, with representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation […]
Thursday 8, May 2008
PRESS RELEASE – Bucharest, May 8 (UNHCR/IOM/Romanian Interior Minister) – On the 8th of May the Minister of Interior and Administration Reform, Mr. Cristian David will sign, in Bucharest, with representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration, the Agreement between the Government of Romania and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration Regarding Temporary Evacuation to Romania of Persons in Urgent Need of International Protection and their Onward Resettlement.
According to provisions in this Agreement an Evacuation Transit Centre for persons in urgent need of international protection will be established on Romanian territory. This Centre would create a transitional safe haven for persons in life threatening situations, which will be the first of its kind in Europe. Thus, individuals or groups who need to be immediately evacuated from an acute situation will benefit from immediate and effective protection in Timisoara until their onwards resettlement to third countries can be effected.
By signing this Agreement, Romania has decided to increase its participation in international community efforts in the humanitarian field. The Romanian authorities have chosen to do this by participating in operations for the resettlement of third country nationals in urgent need of international protection, by granting them the right to temporarily stay on Romanian territory.
Previous efforts made by Romania in this context include the agreement in March 1999 to receive 4000 refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, who were subsequently resettled to the USA. Once more in July 2005, the Romanian Government received 439 Uzbek refugees pending resettlement to third countries.
The establishment on Romanian territory of the Evacuation Transit Centre, the first of its kind in Europe, represents an important step in achieving the strategic objectives of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. It will also contribute to a significant increase in the prestige of our country within the General Assembly of the United Nations and its visibility at the international level.
NOTE FOR THE EDITOR
Find Out More: What is an Evacuation Transit Centre?
Today a new chapter of European refugee protection is opened as an agreement is signed in Bucharest that will pave the way to establishing an Evacuation Transit Centre (ETC) in Timisoara, northern Romania.
Increasingly UNHCR is obliged to resettle refugees on an emergency basis because they find themselves in counties where they are at risk of ill-treatment or of being returned to the country of persecution (refoulement). However, in light of a global terrorist threat resettlement country tend to take several months for screening and admission procedures.
Against this background the new Emergency Transit Centre offers a stable and secure environment for groups at risk until permanent resettlement options are found.
The three signatories of the agreement will have different roles in the process: While Romania generously provides the facility, UNHCR will identify the persons in need of transit evacuation, provide them with Refugee Certificates and negotiate for their onwards resettlement. IOM will be instrumental in the transportation of evacuees, their health screening and for cultural orientation programmes that will prepare the refugees for resettlement.
Donor countries are called to provide sustained financial support in order to cover additional costs associated with temporary evacuation.
Twice in recent history Romania has already hosted refugees that were temporarily evacuated. In March 1999 the country agreed to accept 4,000 refugees from Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia who were then resettled to the USA. In July 2005 the Government of Romania again big-heartedly agreed to temporarily receive on its territory 439 Uzbek refugees pending their resettlement to third countries.
Following this positive experiences the idea of establishing an Evacuation Transit Centre on a permanent bases emerged in October 2006. Today’s signing Ceremony is the result of 18 months of preparations and negotiations.
Melita H. Sunjic in Budapest, Hungary