Romania and Moldova require significant financial and technical support to immediately welcome refugees from Ukraine

Since February 24, 2022, Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine has caused widespread terror, destruction, and displacement. As of late September 2022, there were more than 7.5 million refugees from Ukraine living in countries across Europe, almost 90 percent of whom are women and children. Romania and Moldova were hosting about 80,498 and 92,443 people respectively.

As the number of people displaced by the war in Ukraine continues to increase, Romania and Moldova have taken important, positive steps to welcome refugees. But as fighting drags on, the response must shift from providing emergency humanitarian aid to promoting refugees’ integration. Around 80,000 refugees from Ukraine currently remain in Romania and 90,000 in Moldova. Both countries require significant financial and technical support to deliver on commitments to provide them adequate protection.

In June and July, Refugees International traveled to Romania and Moldova to assess the ongoing response. Their new report outlines lessons from Romania’s implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive for the EU and other Member States and examines how Moldova—a non-EU country with far fewer resources—is using international assistance and coordinating aid efforts for refugees.

Both Romania and Moldova require significant financial and technical support to immediately welcome refugees from Ukraine and accommodate them in the mid- to longer-term. Already, various obstacles hinder refugees’ ability to exercise their rights and to access services for which they are eligible. Meanwhile, Ukrainians eager to return home are hesitating to make plans in their host countries given the uncertainty about the war’s trajectory. This, together with challenges of collecting information about refugees’ needs and coordinating among diverse actors, complicates planning for all stakeholders, especially for the long-term. Furthermore, as Romanian and Moldovan citizens grow increasingly concerned about the war’s enduring implications on their own economies, the initial welcome the Ukrainian refugees received is wearing thin.

To date, commitments from Romanian, Moldovan, and EU officials to realize refugees’ inclusion remain clearer in rhetoric than in action. National, international, and non-governmental actors in Romania and Moldova must adapt the response to sustain a generous welcome and effectively support refugees from Ukraine for as long as they need protection.


The governments of Romania and Moldova should: 

  • Ensure legal access to protection for refugees from Ukraine for as long as they remain unable to safely return to their country of origin. The Romanian government should extend temporary protection for the maximum three years allowed under EU law. The Moldovan government should apply its legal provision to grant refugees from Ukraine temporary protection. Both should increase asylum authorities’ capacity to manage registration for temporary protection and facilitate access to asylum for those who request it.

  • Work with partners to develop actionable national integration strategies and invest the necessary resources to begin immediately implementing them. A coherent, long-term vision from governments will signal commitment to welcoming refugees and improve all stakeholders’ financial and operational planning and coordination.

  • Ensure refugees’ access to safe and dignified accommodation. For refugees hosted by local individuals, systematize registration, vetting, and monitoring of hosts, as well as reporting of and response to exploitation or gender-based violence by hosts. To safeguard the supply of independent housing alternatives, enforce legislation that prohibits property owners from discriminating against renters because of their nationality or from price gouging. Right-size capacity in collective accommodation sites, retain contingency plans to scale if necessary, and ensure adequate reception conditions.

  • Expand cash assistance programs, improve access to childcare, and facilitate recognition of professional and educational degrees from Ukraine. Expand cash assistance programs for refugees to facilitate their transitions and help them meet basic needs with greater autonomy while benefiting local economies. Facilitate access to childcare and recognition of degrees and other qualifications to help refugees, especially single mothers, secure adequate employment.

  • Enable the full participation of refugee children in schools. Remove bureaucratic and legal barriers to enrollment, provide language courses, train teachers, introduce psychosocial support services, improve accessibility for students with disabilities, and expand capacity in facilities and school feeding programs.

  • Continue voicing solidarity with refugees from Ukraine while ensuring that programs serving refugees are designed and funded to also benefit host communities. At all levels of government, demonstrating political support, promoting social cohesion, and responding to local populations’ needs can mitigate risks of “empathy fatigue” and rising xenophobia and discrimination. National governments should increase financial and technical support to local authorities taking concrete steps to welcome refugees.

  • Improve transparency around funding. Governments should regularly report amounts spent from domestic budgets; amounts requested, received, and disbursed from the EU and other donors; and the distribution and use of that funding. Increased transparency builds trust among stakeholders and informs planning for more efficient and effective aid delivery.

The European Commission should: 

  • Provide additional fresh funding to mitigate potential negative repercussions of repurposing existing EU funds away from other priorities. As a leading humanitarian actor, the EU must ensure its response to Ukrainian refugees does not come at the expense of other populations facing humanitarian crises. At the national level, EU funding should support programming that benefits both refugees and their host communities to preclude rising social tensions.

  • Improve clarity and transparency about the availability and use of EU funds. This will promote confidence among all stakeholders and EU citizens and inform a more effective response.          

  • Include conditions on all EU funds requiring Member States to channel at least 30 percent of financing to local authorities and NGOs, and encourage more than 30 percent. High co-financing rates (by which Member States are reimbursed with EU funds) are key to incentivizing greater localization. The European Parliament and Council should support these proposals.

  • Monitor implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive in Romania to ensure refugees can exercise their rights in practice. Use visibility of both good practices and implementation challenges to inform future guidance and support to all EU Member States.    

  • Encourage active participation of all EU Member States in the Solidarity Platform (SP). Promote balance so that countries where Ukrainians prefer to live receive capacity support from others to accommodate them. Regularly include NGOs in SP meetings to improve transparency, information exchange, and coordination. 

UN Agencies and international non-governmental organizations should: 

  • Improve cooperation and empower local civil society organizations (CSOs) in the response. Strengthen UN interagency referral mechanisms and streamline coordination mechanisms to reduce duplication and create space for more efficient information exchange and strategic planning. Provide language interpretation and training for CSOs unfamiliar with the UN system to fully participate. Adapt donor processes to accommodate local NGOs’ needs and ease grant application and reporting requirements.

  • Regularly engage refugees wherever they are to ensure far-reaching information provision and representative, accurate data collection. Be present and consistent to build trust and the ability to gauge and adapt to changing needs. Prioritize community outreach and refugees’ inclusion in decision-making as the most effective means of information dissemination.

  • Continue prioritizing GBV prevention, mitigation, and response and counter-trafficking measures. Focus efforts on community-based protection to improve reporting and inform appropriate responses. Given systemic barriers to reporting and investigating GBV and trafficking, increase funding and programming to match the level of risk rather than the number of reported cases.

  • Streamline and strengthen reporting and referral mechanisms to better support survivors of GBV and trafficking. Harmonize UN- and government-led efforts to strengthen capacity to support refugees seeking to report harm. Provide training on standards for confidentiality and case management to organizations without experience in GBV response, and training in humanitarian response protocols for survivor-centered organizations. Work to establish transnational referral pathways to ensure continuity of care for survivors.


EUfinancialinclusionMoldovaprotectionrefugeesRefugees InternationalRomaniaRussiasupporttechnicalukrainewar
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