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IOM, UNHCR welcome the first flights of refugees out of Moldova to EU Member States

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IOM, UNHCR welcome the first flights of refugees out of Moldova to EU Member States

22 March 2022
Austria. UNHCR supports refugees departing from Moldova to Austria under a humanitarian admission programme.
Viktoriya and her son were among the first ones to depart from Moldova to Austria under a humanitarian admission programme.

Brussels, 22 March 2022 – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) welcome the pledges by European Union (EU) Member States and other European States to transfer refugees from Moldova to their territory under the auspices of the EU Solidarity Platform.

The organisations commend this expression of solidarity, easing pressure on Moldova as national capacities increasingly become strained while offering protection, adequate reception conditions and a solution for the most vulnerable refugees fleeing Ukraine. 

UNHCR is identifying vulnerable persons in Moldova and working with IOM, the European Commission and other EU Member States to facilitate more transfers from Moldova to the EU. UNHCR is also informing refugees on what to expect in the receiving countries, including reception capacity and overall conditions so they can make informed decisions about the trip. 

IOM ensures a safe and orderly movement for all those who depart by providing pre-departure orientation, pre-embarkation briefing, distribution of personal protective equipment (PPEs), baggage handling, land transfer, as well as airport assistance.

Austria volunteered to start with a pilot project within the framework of the Solidarity Platform and pledged to admit 2,000 refugees with specific protection needs. Over the past days, the first two flights already landed in Vienna, carrying mainly women and children, and more will follow in the coming days. 

The Solidarity Platform, established by the European Commission, aims to support EU Member States and associated States on responsibility-sharing for the reception of arrivals from Ukraine in the context of the Temporary Protection Directive. 

The most vulnerable refugees will be prioritized for transfer, including people with disabilities, older people, those with severe medical conditions, and mothers with young children. Unaccompanied and separated children will only be transferred following best interest procedures and family tracing, as reuniting children with their families and caretakers is the priority. Safeguards against smuggling and trafficking networks will also be included.

“We commend the Government of Austria for pioneering this movement for vulnerable Ukrainian refugees,” said Lars Johan Lönnback, IOM Chief of Mission in Moldova. 

“This is also a timely and essential complement to the generosity shown by the Government and people of the Republic of Moldova who currently offer a safe haven to over 100,000 people, often in their own homes.’

“UNHCR is grateful for this initiative of responsibility sharing and solidarity with people fleeing Ukraine and those hosting them in the Republic of Moldova,” said Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, UNHCR’s Representative for EU Affairs. “This effort shows that sharing responsibility to effectively support refugees and host countries in the spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees is possible and we encourage more States to take part.”

All actions are coordinated between the Moldovan authorities, receiving States, the EUAA, Frontex and other relevant EU agencies and institutions, UNHCR, IOM and other international organizations, under the auspices of the Solidarity Platform, convened by the European Commission. 

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