The “success story” that Moldova has successfully coped with the flow of refugees from Ukraine may lose relevance.
Five months ago, the government stopped allocating money for the maintenance of refugee centres, while Western partners in general have donated at least 150 million euros to Moldova to provide comfort to Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war. The authorities admit that things are going badly, but they cannot say exactly where all the money that was earmarked solely for refugee work has been spent.
The mayor of Balti claims he has not received money for the maintenance of the local accommodation centre for Ukrainian refugees for several months now. The municipality decided to borrow money for them from other funds.
The refugees are also aware of the possible need to look for new places of residence – they shudder to think about it.
At the same time, the situation in Balti is not yet the most difficult: the salaries of the centre’s employees are paid from the municipal funds. And in the district accommodation centres they have not been paid since December. The centre in Glodeni is at risk of being disconnected from water, light, gas, sewerage and electricity services. All because of debts.
“All debts for three months, I mean March, April, May and so far we are in the middle of June. The whole amount of the debt is 450 thousand lei. 300 thousand lei are wage debts and 100 thousand lei are debts for public utilities”, said Ion Cojocar, chairman of the Glodeni district.
A similar situation is in Stefanesti, Floresti district: both the administration of the centre and the employees of the institution have not received their salaries since February. The centre also has debts for utilities. Although the managers of the centre initially agreed to talk to our reporter, when the camera crew arrived on site we found out that the inhabitants of the centre were all alone.
At the same time, the deputy chairman of the Floresti district admits: the local authorities do not cope with the situation
“It is also obvious that those employees who are supposed to pay salaries have not received any money for that either. Yes, there are transfers, but they have to be made. And this has not been done,” said Alin Afronin, vice-chairman of the Floresti district.
The Minister of Labour and Social Protection, however, claims that the multi-million financial aid from the European Union is still not enough to solve all the problems that arise.
“A lot of people have donated to us to help refugees, from abroad… – And that is not enough. – Millions have been donated. – Yes, but our needs are also very impressive. Many of the costs of running the centres have come from the state budget. – Are you still asking for help? – Yes, we are in constant dialogue and ask for support. – Then one more question – when will the problems be solved? – Soon, very soon, I think this week or next week,” he said.
According to the head of the Cabinet of Ministers, the decision can be made only next week, although the problem started about 5 months ago.
The head of the parliamentary commission for social welfare, health and family, for his part, says that the situation around the refugee centres has been badly managed and that the government is already behind schedule in finding a solution.
“The problem was announced a long time ago, as was the problem with personal assistants. We have been discussing the subject with everyone. From the prime minister to the finance minister, and things have been slower than we expected, we have to take on these costs, yes, we have to manage the public money better, but a situation where people do not receive their salaries for 5 months cannot be acceptable in principle and solutions should have been found much earlier,” said Dan Perchun, head of the Social Protection, Health and Family Commission.
We could not get any comments from the representatives of the Ministry of Finance; they did not answer our phone calls. According to the latest data, just over 100 thousand refugees are now officially registered in Moldova, mostly women and children.