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

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Resettlement

An alternative for those who cannot go home, made possible by UNHCR and governments.

UNHCR Resettlement Handbook

UNHCR Resettlement Handbook – July 2011 edition [pdf]

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

Between February and October 2011, more than 1 million people crossed into Tunisia to escape conflict in Libya. Most were migrant workers who made their way home or were repatriated, but the arrivals included refugees and asylum-seekers who could not return home or live freely in Tunisia.

UNHCR has been trying to find solutions for these people, most of whom ended up in the Choucha Transit Camp near Tunisia's border with Libya. Resettlement remains the most viable solution for those registered as refugees at Choucha before a cut-off date of December 1, 2011.

As of late April, 14 countries had accepted 2,349 refugees for resettlement, 1,331 of whom have since left Tunisia. The rest are expected to leave Choucha later this year. Most have gone to Australia, Norway and the United States. But there are a more than 2,600 refugees and almost 140 asylum-seekers still in the camp. UNHCR continues to advocate with resettlement countries to find solutions for them.

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

Returnees in Myanmar

During the early 1990s, more than 250,000 Rohingya Muslims fled across the border into Bangladesh, citing human rights abuses by Myanmar's military government. In exile, refugees received shelter and assistance in 20 camps in the Cox's Bazaar region of Bangladesh. More than 230,000 of the Rohingya Muslims have returned since 1992, but about 22,000 still live in camps in Bangladesh. To promote stability in returnee communities in Myanmar and to help this group of re-integrate into their country, UNHCR and its partner agencies provide monitors to insure the protection and safety of the returnees as well as vocational training, income generation schemes, adult literacy programs and primary education.

Returnees in Myanmar

UNHCR Relief Items Pour into Myanmar

With eight relief flights and an earlier truck convoy from nearby Thailand, UNHCR had by June 6, 2008 moved 430 tonnes of shelter and basic household supplies into Myanmar to help as many as 130,000 victims of Cyclone Nargis. The aid includes plastic sheeting, plastic rolls, mosquito nets, blankets and kitchen sets. Once the aid arrives in the country it is quickly distributed.

On the outskirts of the city of Yangon – which was also hit by the cyclone – and in the Irrawady delta, some families have been erecting temporary shelters made out of palm leaf thatching. But they desperately need plastic sheeting to keep out the monsoon rains.

Posted on 12 June 2008

UNHCR Relief Items Pour into Myanmar

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