Romanian refugees and asylum seekers
They applied with rather high chances of recognition, as the basic policy assumption of the West in relation to asylum seekers coming from the Communist world was that there was no possibility to send them back.
In the early 1990s, Romania continued to be a major source of asylum-seekers in Europe. Romanians represented the second largest group (after citizens of the former Yugoslavia) applying for asylum in Europe in that time period with 402 000 applications submitted. A total of 350 000 of these applications were submitted between 1990 and 1994, three quarters of them in Germany.
In the case of certain minority groups, particularly the Roma, asylum migration was motivated by a sense of insecurity and increased vulnerability. For example, 17 cases of mob violence directed against local Roma communities were registered between 1990 and 1995, in which ten Roma people were killed and 295 houses belonging to Roma destroyed. The hesitance of the authorities to prosecute the perpetrators, or to take steps to prevent similar occurrences, lent passive support to the violence. In this context, a large number of refugees of Roma origin applied for asylum, most of them in Germany. In response to pressure from various international organizations (such as the European Council, OSCE, NATO) and the EU, Romania has improved its minority policies considerably over time, advancing anti-discrimination legislation and initiating large-scale integration programs. However, the Roma are still faced with prejudice and various forms of institutionalised discrimination. A considerable part of this population still lives in a marginal situation and is thus inclined to migrate.
Refuge and asylum in Romania
In 1991 Romania ratified the UN Convention (1951) and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (1967). The asylum system in Romania underwent modifications in 1996 and 2000, before being harmonised with EU standards in 2006. The number of asylum applications has fluctuated from year to year, with 15 605 applications being received between 1991 and the end of 2006.
The number of asylum applications might increase in the near future, due to EU regulations, which assign responsibility for asylum applications to the state where an applicant first entered EU territory. Given the fact that approximately two-thirds of Romania's borders are with non-EU countries (Moldova, Ukraine and the former Yugoslavia), it is likely that a large number of asylum-seekers will enter through its territory. The Romanian authorities are already prepared for such a change; the National Office for Refugees (the Romanian governmental unit in charge of the implementation of asylum policy) has established new transit and accommodation centres for asylum applicants. In 2006 six such centres were operating, offering shelter for 1 312 asylum applicants, and another two such centres were due to open.