If the Ukrainian refugees do not legalize their stay in Moldova within the required timeframe, they can be fined, but their expulsion is highly improbable, director of the Law Center of Advocates Oleg Palii stated in a public debate entitled “Temporary protection for displaced persons from Ukraine: progress, challenges and perspectives”, which was staged by IPN News Agency. According to him, to facilitate the legalization of the Ukrainian refugees’ stay, the obligation for the Ukrainians to present documentary evidence of the domicile in Moldova, as it is required earlier, was excluded.
According to data of the General Inspectorate for Migration, in the Republic of Moldova there are about 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. Over 6,900 Ukrainians obtained a permit of stay in Moldova, while 2,400 Ukrainian citizens obtained the nationality of the Republic of Moldova. Many of the Ukrainian citizens in Moldova benefit from temporary protection. The director of the Law Center of Advocates – an entity that offers legal assistance to UNHCR Moldova - said the temporary protection status offers the Ukrainians a series of rights in Moldova.
“First of all, they enjoy the right to stay in the Republic of Moldova throughout the period of temporary protection and this is not insignificant. Without this right that is stipulated in a Government decision, the persons cannot stay on the territory of our country. Also, the adults benefit from the right to get employed, which is also not trivial. To maintain oneself, the people need to work. The children enjoy the right to attend school. Everyone benefits from primary health services and emergency medical services. They can also benefit from social assistance as the same level as the families with children who are citizens of the Republic of Moldova. The families with Ukrainian children have the right to ask for social benefits, in the same conditions as the citizens of the Republic of Moldova do,” said Oleg Palii.
To encourage the Ukrainian refugee to legalize their stay in Moldova and to obtain temporary protection, the Ukrainians were spared of the necessity of presenting evidence of their domicile in Moldova.
“From March 1 this year up to the beginning of September, there was a provision that regulated the temporary stay. Under this, the persons, besides IDs, were to also present evidence of their domicile in the Republic of Moldova, which is the statement of the house owner made in the presence of the migration officer or the notary, which confirms that the refugee lives at the owner’s home or they have a contract. A lot of people signaled this obligation as a problem. Many owners refused to legalize this relationship as they feared economic consequences given that they leased out lodging. At the start of September, by the decision of the Commission for Exceptional Situations, this provision was suspended and the refugees now go to the offices of the General Inspectorate for Migration and submit an own responsibility statement in this regard,” stated the director of the Law Center of Advocates.
He noted that there are cases when Ukrainian citizens violate the regime of stay in Moldova, but these are not expelled. In accordance with international law, a person cannot be expelled to a state where there are risks to the person’s security and physical integrity.
“I rule out possibility of expulsion of Ukrainian refugees. A person cannot be sent back to a territory where their life can be in danger. The law envisions such possibilities, but in the case of Ukrainians this is almost impossible. They can be fined and I know cases when they were fined for staying in the Republic of Moldova longer than allowed without additional legalization,” explained Oleg Palii.
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.