The new centre, to be located in the western Romanian city of Timişoara and able to accommodate up to 200 people, will shelter individuals or groups of people still facing acute danger in their country of first arrival and in need of immediate evacuationSenior UNHCR officials warmly welcomed the development. "It's an extraordinary gesture for an EU [European Union] member state to make available sovereign territory to accommodate the most destitute refugees awaiting permanent resettlement in a third country," said Machiel Salomons, UNHCR's representative in Romania.
Once the facility is up and running, UNHCR will identify those persons in need of transit evacuation, provide them with refugee certificates and negotiate for their onwards resettlement. IOM will arrange the transportation of evacuees, their health screening and cultural orientation programmes.Resettlement countries have pledged their support to this initiative, while UNHCR has called on donor governments to provide financial support.
The decision to build the evacuation transit centre comes almost three years after Romania gave more than 400 Uzbek refugees safe haven in Timişoara. Intensifying violence forced them to flee eastern Uzbekistan and seek shelter in Kyrgyzstan. The vast majority have since been resettled to third countries.And in March 1999, Romania accepted some 4,000 refugees from Croatia and from Bosnia & Herzegovina who were subsequently resettled to the United States.