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26 October 2020 – Moldova

A Guard Standing in Front of the Chișinău Centre for Eastern Border Migrants, (EU/ENPI,
A Guard Standing in Front of the Chișinău Centre for Eastern Border Migrants, (EU/ENPI, "The Chișinău Centre for Eastern Border Migrants," 27 May 2013,

Early during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Moldovan Parliament declared a 60-day state of emergency (17 March – 15 May 2020) after 29 cases of COVID-19 were registered. While most of the restrictions were gradually dropped, the country nevertheless began to see increases in infections, which began to spike at the end of September 2020. As of 26 October, Moldova had registered 71,503 cases as well as 1,685 COVID-related deaths. In response to the onset of the second wave, President Igor Dodon said that the country would cope without implementing a new set of restrictive measures like closing schools.

The GDP has been unable to establish the extent to which detention facilities are currently used in Moldova as part of immigration enforcement procedures or obtain details on COVID-19 related measures taken to safeguard people in immigration custody. However, in April 2020, UNHCR reported that it had held more than 600 counselling sessions with asylum seekers, refugees, stateless persons and applicants for stateless status. Subsequently, UNHCR conducted an assessment of the impact of the pandemic on persons of concern. The assessment focused on asylum seekers accommodated in the Temporary Accommodation Centre (TAC), a temporary shelter for asylum seekers and vulnerable refugees, as well as refugees and stateless persons residing in different regions of the country.

According to UNHCR’s COVID-impact report, as of 1 July, Moldova was hosting 431 refugees. The main countries of origin were Turkey, Bangladesh, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Syrian Arab Republic. In addition, as of 30 June, 24 out of 80 registered asylum seekers in the country resided in the TAC, and in the first half of 2020, 43 new asylum seekers were registered with the Bureau for Migration and Asylum in Moldova. Furthermore, as of 1 June, Moldova hosted 1,899 stateless persons, of whom 44 percent were of Russian origin, 29 percent Ukrainian, 15 percent Moldovan, and 12 percent of other origins.

As regards the country’s prisons, on 12 March, the Ministry of Justice announced the suspension of visits in prisons, as well as the compulsory wearing of a mask by staff. In addition, on the same day, the Ministry of Justice announced that a special regime would be put in place in prisons to avoid the spread of the virus. The plan includes, inter alia, the drafting of daily medical reports and turning available spaces (gym, classroom, etc.) into isolation rooms. On 9 June, the European Council donated protective material to the Moldovan prison administration to provide support to detainees and prison staff.