Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Moldova

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 10 June 2002
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Moldova , 10 June 2002, available at: [accessed 16 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

About 300 refugees and asylum seekers were living in Moldova at the end of 2001, as well as an indeterminate number of internally displaced persons numbering in the thousands.

During the year, 5,169 Moldovans sought asylum in European countries outside the former Soviet Union. An estimated 15 percent of Moldova's total population was living and working outside the country at year's end.

In December, Moldova acceded to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, but had not enacted implementing legislation by year's end. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) registered and adjudicated asylum claims during the year. Between the establishment of the UNHCR office in Moldova in 1997 and April 2002, the agency had registered 634 cases (873 persons), recognizing 109 cases and rejecting 164, a 40 percent approval rate. Most asylum seekers originated from Chechnya, Iraq, Sudan, and Afghanistan.

As of April 2002, UNHCR reported 173 recognized refugees and 93 with pending claims. More than 607 persons had abandoned their claims and were believed to have moved on to other countries. Since opening its office, UNHCR had only assisted 20 refugees in resettling outside the region and 9 in repatriating.

Although the government and UNHCR disagreed on Chechen refugees' need for protection, the authorities generally tolerated UNHCR-recognized refugees, but gave them no chance to integrate locally, barring them from legal status or the right to work. Consequently, many refugees and asylum seekers were believed to have traveled west to other countries. Border guards reportedly arrested and removed many asylum seekers, including airport arrivals, without affording them the opportunity to meet with UNHCR.

Internal Displacement

As a result of a 1992 civil war, in which Slavic separatists established a de facto autonomous enclave in the Transdniestria region in eastern Moldova, about 50,000 mostly Moldovan-speakers were internally displaced and 60,000 refugees were forced into neighboring Ukraine. After the conflict ended, nearly all the uprooted reportedly returned to their homes.

The government failed to properly register the displaced, however, and generally ignored them. The last registration occurred in January 1995, and indicated that 872 families were still displaced. In October 2000, a nongovernmental organization (NGO), the Confidence Building Association, released a study on the internally displaced in Moldova. The NGO interviewed 563 internally displaced persons, and found that 178 had tried to return to their homes, but were unsuccessful. Most said that they left the Transdniestria region because of threats and harassment, physical violence, and pressure to quit their jobs. The displaced were pessimistic about the possibility of reconciliation between the Moldovan government and the separatist authorities. A majority said that they would return only if the Moldovan government reestablished control over the eastern territory. Of the persons interviewed, 88 percent were Moldovan-speakers and 12 percent were of Russian or Ukrainian origin.

Another NGO, the Moldovan Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, reported in 2001 that several thousand displaced persons were still in need of durable solutions, and that "new displacement flows from separatist-controlled areas are small, but they continue (mostly among intellectuals, members of political parties, or draftees from the separatist army)." The Helsinki Committee said that newly displaced persons had no way to register their displacement with the authorities, and suggested that many of the internally displaced have since joined the ranks of Moldovans who have left the country.

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