With war waging in Ukraine, immense pain and suffering has been inflicted upon the Ukrainian population. Those who could (and wanted) left in the face of the Russian aggression, generating the largest influx of refugees in recent European history. Neighbouring countries, such as Romania, Poland and Republic of Moldova, had to adapt almost overnight to a new reality: the reality of a war at their borders.
According to the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees data portal, as of 7 June 2022, more than 7.2 million refugees have left Ukraine, with over 2.3 million returning. Additional figures from the UN show that:
Poland has taken in over 3.8 million refugees;
Romania over 613,000;
Moldova (non-EU) over 491,000;
Hungary over 731,000; and
Slovakia over 484,000.
It is worth noting that some estimates indicate that up to 90% of the refugees are women and children.
As days passed, the number of people fleeing war and crossing the borders into Romania (directly from Ukraine or from the Republic of Moldova) rapidly increased. While civil societies mobilised in an instant, with donations pouring in and being transported to the northern border points from the very start of the war, it should be noted that the European Union also stepped up to help.
Thus, on 4 March 2022, the EU Council issued Council Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/382, establishing the existence of a mass influx of displaced persons from Ukraine within the meaning of article 5 of Directive 2001/55/EC. This had the effect of introducing temporary protections (CID 2022/382) for Ukrainian refugees, although it was up to the member states to clarify the procedure of obtaining such protections and what it entails. Two weeks later, the Romanian government passed Government Decision No. 367/2022, establishing certain conditions for ensuring temporary protection and amending and supplementing or updating certain regulations (GD 367/2022). While the main provisions regarding the temporary protection were already implemented by Law 122/2006 on asylum in Romania (Law 122/2006), GD 367/2022 sets out the specific and concrete conditions for ensuring temporary protections.
With the legislation changing as fast and as unpredictably as the war itself, and the public officials applying the new laws with no previous experience or guidance, there was concern that the practical application of the rules would be less than what was hoped for by the Romanian legislation. However, any shortcomings of public officials were well compensated for by the tremendous efforts of numerous volunteers helping Ukrainians.
For instance, when assisting refugees, some centres have offered food and drinks for the applicants, as well as playgrounds or rest areas, while the whole procedure of verifying the legal documents and requirements mandated by law is carried out together with volunteers speaking Ukrainian, English, Russian or Romanian.
Given the influx of millions of refugees into the European Union, it should be noted that a key provision of the temporary protections is the right to work. With that in mind, this article outlines some of the major elements and matters related to the temporary protection regime now being implemented in Romania.