Mihai Vodă: Ukrainian refugees feel safe in Moldova

The Ukrainian refugees feel safe in the Republic of Moldova as there are a number of protection mechanisms here, including the principle of non-refoulement. However, some choose to go to other European states, while others are in a period of transition and haven’t yet taken a decision, the head of the General Inspectorate for Migration Mihai Vodă stated in a public debate hosted by IPN.

According to him, the situation should be regarded as a whole as over 100,000 Ukrainian refugees came to the Republic of Moldova, but not everyone chose to stay. “They can choose to stay for up to 90 days. To present the figures, 24,000 applied for temporary protection, approximately 7,000 obtained a permit of stay, while another 2,400 obtained the nationality of the Republic of Moldova. So, we cannot speak only from the angle of temporary protection. Besides, over 700 foreigners asked for asylum and their applications are being examined,” stated Mihai Vodă.

He noted that the Ukrainian refugees feel safe in Moldova as the principle of non-refoulement has been applied since the war broke out. “So, we have a readmission agreement with Ukraine, referring to persons who stay legally. A large part of refugees are indeed are covered by this agreement, but it is not applicable as long as we speak about the principle of non-refoulement under which it is banned returning to the country of origin a person whose life is in danger there,” said Mihai Vodă.

The head of the General Inspectorate for Migration also said that either the person has a legal status or not, when the case of a foreigner is examined, the principle of non-refoulement is taken into account. “Our goal is not to penalize or apply the return when a person stays illegally. We aim to offer them a legal status for the persons to have access to services and to become part of society alongside us, to grow in different sectors together with us, to develop the economy and to become actively involved as workers or as investors, while their children study alongside the children of citizens of the Republic of Moldova. They should become an integral part and should also study Romanian as it is easier to gain access to services when you know the language of the country in which you stay,” stated Mihai Vodă.

Asked about the risks to which the state is exposed when it hosts foreigners, Mihai Vodă said the risks are minimized as a foreigner goes through several filters in Moldova, first the filter of the border police and security filters to examine the person, then the filter of the General Inspectorate for Migration, when the person applies for IDs. “We have internal mechanisms, including for temporary protection, by which the person is examined through the agency of all the databases and is subject to all types of examinations,” stated the official.

He noted there are cases of illegal crossing of the border, but measures are every time taken to identity such persons. “These are primarily men who run away because they do not want to be drafted into the army. Most of these men reach our country. A low number of persons are probably not detected at once, but the persons, when they come in contact with the state authorities, are evidently asked about their status, entry into the country and they are anyway in the focus of the authorities,” said Mihai Vodă.

The debate entitled “Temporary protection for displaced persons from Ukraine: progress, challenges and perspectives” was held by IPN News Agency as part of the initiative “Socially responsible administration of external financing” of the Institute for Strategic Initiatives, in partnership with the Independent Think Tank “Expert-Grup, with support from Soros Foundation Moldova.

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