Asylum seekers in Romania face a number of difficulties, especially outside the capital, where the problems are even worse than in Bucharest.
Many asylum seekers who speak rare languages have informed EMF that there are no interpreters for them outside Bucharest. This affects their access to social, legal and medical assistance.
Asylum procedures are very complex legal processes that cannot be followed without expert assistance. The free legal aid provided by the Bar and NGOs through UNHCR funding is not sufficient to cover the basic needs of asylum seekers in Romania. In addition, specialized lawyers are not available in other locations outside Bucharest.
In assessing the credibility of an asylum claim, decision-makers do not always take into account the latest developments in the asylum seeker’s country of origin, which can lead to incorrect decisions.
Women asylum seekers feel particularly exposed during the asylum procedure. There is an acute shortage of female interpreters for rare languages, and government officials are not well trained to conduct gender-sensitive interviews nor to identify gender persecution.
People granted protection in Romania face ignorance. When refugees approach government assistance offices, they are often confronted with officials who rarely work with refugees and therefore do not know what type of assistance they qualify for.
Refugees face a similar situation when looking for work, especially outside the capital. Employers are reluctant to hire refugees because they do not understand their status or what their skills and qualifications are.
In recent years, the political debate in Romania has argued that immigration takes jobs away from local people, lowers wages and puts pressure on public services, and has focused on how aid benefits received by asylum seekers are higher than the incomes of some local workers. In addition, views on the cultural and social effects of immigration are becoming increasingly negative because of the perceived differences that people of other religions bring. Overall, these changing public attitudes explain the rise in nationalist sentiments among the population.