Romania’s support for refugees through NGOs appreciated at the European level

Deniza Cristian 11/11/2022 | 17:22

Christa Schweng, president of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), is currently present in Romania after attending the “Transforming geopolitical challenges into a success story of the European Union: the contribution of organized civil society” meeting. During the event, one of the subjects referred to the important role that civil society organizations have in reducing the humanitarian, social and economic consequences of the war on refugees throughout Europe and, in particular, from countries with a large number of refugees, such as Romania.


On this occasion, Christa Schweng met, on November 10, with the representatives of the „Ateliere Fără Frontiere” (AFF) Association, a non-profit organization whose main goal is the integration of vulnerable people, including people from Ukraine, into the labor market.

“Ateliere Fără Frontiere’s experience in employing vulnerable people and solving social, medical, educational aspects helped us meet the needs of people in Ukraine. In times of crisis, social insertion enterprises have proven to be an essential component to integrate vulnerable people, refugees in this context. This is an additional reason for Romania to have a public policy dedicated to socio-professional insertion“, says Damien Thiery, general director of AFF.

Christa Schweng showed her support for the important role that AFF has by developing its projects for the integration of people from Ukraine and vulnerable people from Romania. The President of the EESC visited the educlick and remesh workshops within the AFF and talked to the refugees employed by AFF.

There are also some significant figures that come to support the need for such projects at the local level. More specifically, until October 30, 2022, 1,460,854 refugees from Ukraine and 700,260 from the Republic of Moldova were registered in Romania. Of this total, 87,853 remained in Romania, and 78,323 requested temporary protection status.

Therefore, the last project launched by AFF, dedicated to the integration of refugees, aims to stabilize the person by facilitating access to learn the Romanian language, to legal assistance, community events and child care, medical care and housing, but also through integration on the labor market. Individuals are counseled to identify their labor market options in accordance with their related needs. As a result, they are employed directly by AFF or referred and accompanied to other employers with whom AFF has partnerships.

Moreover, AFF organizes community meetings with refugees, through which they have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with different aspects of life in Romania. In the last 2 months, thanks to this project, around 400 counseling meetings have taken place with people who needed support and 22 people have been employed at AFF or other employers. The association’s refugee programs are financially supported by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Fondation Air Liquide and the Swiss Solidarity Foundation.

AFF was awarded last year by the EESC with the 3rd prize at European level in the “Civil Society Prize” competition for involvement in climate actions, thanks to the educlick workshop activity, where used IT equipment was collected, refurbished and donated to schools in disadvantaged backgrounds. Seven refugees work in this workshop today.

The meeting in which Christa Schweng participated was organized on November 9 – 10 by the EESC – in cooperation with the ESC (Economic and Social Council) from Romania – and together with one of the national economic and social councils of the European Union. The event takes place annually, with the presidents and general secretaries of the EESC and the EU economic and social councils present. The EESC is an advisory body of the European Union that provides representatives of socio-professional interest groups with a formal platform to express their views on EU policies. Its opinions are addressed to the Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Christa Schweng is the President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) since October 2020 and an active member of the institution since 1998. Outside the EESC, Christa Schweng works for the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.

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Deniza Cristian | 21/12/2023 | 14:13
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