Romania: evacuation transit centre to be created – UN refugee agency

9 May 2008

An evacuation centre – the first of its kind in Europe – for those urgently needing international protection will be created in Romania, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced today.

The agreement to establish the centre took place in Bucharest yesterday between the Romanian Government, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The new facility 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,” Jennifer Pagonis, UNHCR spokesperson, told reporters in Geneva.

“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,” she added.

Noting that resettlement countries have committed to support this scheme, Ms. Pagonis appealed to other nations for financial assistance for the new centre.

In a related development, Belarus has signed an agreement with UNHCR and other organizations to regularly carry out joint border monitoring missions to ensure that asylum seekers have access to both the country and to asylum procedures.

The arrangement also covers counselling, medical and emergency aid, as well as help for those who are not eligible for international protection and wish to return to their home countries.

Belarus, a transit country and destination for migrants and asylum-seekers, maintains tight border controls with the three European Union (EU) nations – Lithuania, Poland and Latvia – it borders, while having an essentially open border with Russia.

This new scheme is part of a project funded by the EU. UNHCR entered into similar agreements with Hungary in 2006 and Slovakia last year, and are key elements of the agency’s 10 Point Plan of Action for Eastern and South Eastern borders of the EU on handling flows of migrants and asylum seekers.


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