With its 2.6 million inhabitants, Moldova is one of the smallest countries in Europe, but ranking high when it comes to poverty, inflation and challenges related to an energy crisis worsening by the day. Still, this is one of the primary arrival destinations for refugees from hard-hit areas of southern Ukraine. People crossing the border from Ukraine into Moldova to seek refuge and protection come from close-by areas – and mostly Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa oblasts. Traumatised and having lived through extreme ordeals in Ukraine, the elderly and vulnerable, women, and children continue to be welcomed and hosted despite limited capacity and already stretched resources in Moldova.
As part of its Europe-wide emergency response to the Ukraine displacement crisis, DRC established presence in Moldova in early 2022 as the first signs of large-scale displacement materialised. In addition to its comprehensive humanitarian programme inside Ukraine, DRC is present also in three neighbouring countries with emergency response operations set up in Poland, Romania, as well as in Moldova. Completing a first phase of DRC support to the Government of the Republic of Moldova with enhancing refugee accommodation capacity, has resulted in improved asylum center’s capacity and conditions presented today in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova.
From the opening event in Chisinau, Ana Povrzenic, the Director for DRC Danish Refugee Council operations in Poland, Romania, and Moldova said:
‘It is truly a milestone for the humanitarian response and for future preparedness that there are now better facilities and capacity for receiving and hosting refugees from Ukraine and other countries. Following our close collaboration with trusted civil society partners and the Government of the Republic of Moldova, it has eventually become possible to open the doors to significantly improved refugee accommodation facilities in Chisinau. At the same time, we must remember to thank and to support also host communities and people who are offering their own spaces and goodwill for thousands of people in need.’
From the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Moldova, State Secretary Jana Costachi lauded the joint efforts to improve the country’s main Asylum Seeker Accommodation Center in Chisinau. The center is established in a building from 1978, that used to host a large kindergarten which was eventually transformed into an asylum center in 2003.
‘Being at the Chisinau Asylum Seeker Accommodation Center today, it is clear that we have come a long way. In the very beginning of 2022 – before war broke out in Ukraine - this Asylum Center had the capacity to accommodate 140 people. Today, there is room for up to 220 people who will find shelter and services according to international standards. While the occasion is sad, we are pleased to see how DRC’s contribution will help offer better space for people in need,’ explained DRC’s Ana Povrzenic at the center in Chisinau.
As hard winter sets in, lives in Ukraine are predictably becoming increasingly challenged over the coming months. More people are likely to need humanitarian assistance and emergency aid – including in Ukraine’s neighbouring countries, Poland, Moldova, and Romania.
DRC in Moldova is committed to continue the support and close collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Moldova and with its Bureau of Migration and Asylum. This collaboration will be critical to ensure that adequate facilities and essential services – including access to water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as health and medical aid - are in place for people in need of refuge and protection in the Republic of Moldova. This is critical at a time when more people may arrive reflecting the humanitarian needs and situation over the coming months across the border in Ukraine.
‘The immediate needs for shelter, protection and access to basic services must remain a priority for us all in order to take people in need through a humanitarian crisis of proportions that echoes around the world. Already the people of Moldova have generously received Ukrainian nationals since February this year,’ said Verica Recevic, DRC’s Response Manager in Moldova:
‘Thousands are right now hosted in private homes across the country as well as in facilities offered by the Government of the Republic of Moldova. The Asylum Seeker Accommodation Center here in Chisinau is a strong symbol of the commitment to respond to the Ukraine displacement crisis - and needs of refugees also from other countries,’ told Verica Recevic.