EUBAM Advisory Board acknowledged the Mission’s active role in supporting Ukrainian and Moldovan border and customs authorities in trying times 

The Advisory Board for the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) acknowledged the Mission’s active role in the smooth running of the EU Solidarity Lanes Initiative in response to the blockade of the transport corridors from Ukraine, as well as delivering a series of profiled training events on topical cross-border crime threats.

The 39th Advisory Board Meeting took place on the 24th of November 2022 in an online format. It brought together representatives from Foreign Ministries, border, customs and law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the EU Delegations to the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the European Commission, the EU High-Level Advisor’s Mission, the EU Advisory Mission to Ukraine, the International Organization for Migration, and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The Advisory Board expressed deep appreciation to the Ukrainian and Moldovan border and customs agencies for their tremendous service on the way to ensuring the border and economic security, especially at this critical time. The participants also recognised the Moldovan and Ukrainian authorities’ efforts to re-establish the rail freight transport corridor through the Basarabeasca-Berezino rail connection and welcomed the intention to implement joint control on the territory of the Republic of Moldova.

The EU Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova and the Chairman of the Advisory Board, Jānis Mažeiks expressed his compliments to EUBAM for having continued to conduct its mission and adapted its activities in these exceptional circumstances. “EUBAM did not only enhance its support to partners in the fight against organised crime, but also provided significant support in the response to the unprecedented inflows of refugees and assisted in the establishment and smooth conduct of the EU Solidarity Lanes. Finally, Ambassador Jānis Mažeiks commended the exceptional efforts from Ukrainian and Moldovan partners and encouraged them to make full use of EUBAM, including the possibility to request for specific capacity-building activities that could contribute further to border and customs management in the challenging operational context in which we are operating.

Head of EUBAM, Slawomir Pichor, presented the Mission’s latest results and advancement in its action plan from June to October 2022, despite the inauspicious backdrop. „The Mission has done its best to move forward with the implementation of our working programme. But we have also been adjusting our activities to align them to the current situation and to the repercussions of this war which has redesigned our security and economic landscape,” he stressed.

Over the last five months, EUBAM supported its Moldovan and Ukrainian partners contributing to the facilitation of the Ukrainian agricultural export through alternative logistics routes leading from MD to the EU and beyond. EUBAM has also been acting as a catalyst for bringing the key stakeholders together to find solutions for ensuring cargo traffic fluidity and seeking innovative solutions to further facilitate agricultural exports from Ukraine via all feasible transport corridors.

In addition, to better cope with the changed security situation and increased risks at the Moldova-Ukraine border, EUBAM organised 14 training events for 261 officers serving in law enforcement agencies in both countries.

Deputy Director General of the Directorate for the European Union and the NATO of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Serhii Saienko emphasized that the challenges presented by Russia’s illegal, brutal and unjustified aggression pose many challenges, and EUBAM has been there to meet them. “We appreciate the considerable contribution of EUBAM to building capacities of Customs and Border Guards services of Ukraine and are grateful for the swift implementation of initiatives, such as the Solidarity Lanes, and are committed to creating safe and secure transit between the EU and Ukraine.”

Acting Head of Multilateral Cooperation Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova Victor Lapusneanu noted: “We reiterate our gratitude to EUBAM for its continuous assistance and activity carried out in the last five months. The Republic of Moldova remains committed to supporting the Ukrainian refugees seeking shelter in our country, despite the hardships and challenges faced. At the same time, we continue to facilitate the export of Ukrainian agricultural products, actively contributing to EU Solidarity Lanes Initiative. We are working on strengthening the transport and transit capacity on Moldovan territory and would like to emphasize the urgent need for short to mid-term grant investments in this regard. “

The Advisory Board will meet again in June 2023.

Moldovan customs officers trained on their X-ray image interpretation

This week 11 Moldovan customs officers trained their skills in interpreting x-ray images. The EUBAM and Celbet organized the event to enhance the skills to properly arrange X-ray scanning processes, recognizing when a scan shows forbidden goods transported by different means.

The week-long training consisted of a practical part at the Training Center of the Customs Service on interpreting x-ray images. At the Leuseni border crossing point, the participants learned more about the organization of the scanning process and the benefits of implementing non-intrusive inspections during customs clearance.

This kind of training will strengthen the capabilities of the Customs Service to prevent and counter the flow of illegal goods at the border and to carry out checks using non-intrusive equipment. As this was the “Train the Trainers” format, the 11 officers can return to their duty stations and pass on the knowledge to their colleagues.

EUBAM facilitates fact-finding visit of DG Trade officials to border crossing points at Giurgiulesti

The Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission (DG Trade) officials visited the Moldova-Ukraine and Moldova-Romania border crossing points in Giurgiulesti area to receive the first-hand experience on the implementation of EU-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes initiative.

On 18 November, EUBAM together with the EU Delegation to the Republic of Moldova organized a fact-finding visit to the South of the Republic of Moldova for officials from DG Trade and EU Delegations from Eastern Partnership and Western Balkan countries. The EU officials visited two Moldovan border crossing points Giurgiulesti-Reni and Giurgiulesti-Galati, where they were able to see with their own eyes the efforts of the Moldovan Customs and Border agencies that are aimed at supporting EU-launched Solidarity Lanes Initiative. At the same time a visit was paid to International Free Port Giurgiulesti, so that the participants could accustom themselves with the peculiarities of the Port’s terminals work and witness the forwarding and transport operations through the Danube route.

During the visit, the Head of EUBAM Slawomir Pichor presented the Mission’s support for implementing the EU-led Solidarity Lanes Initiative. In the same vein, the Head of Mission informed EU representatives on the current situation in the area, emphasizing the need for assistance in upgrading border infrastructure. The Head of EUBAM also advocated for investment in IT solutions to further facilitate the movement of Ukrainian agricultural export, such as “e-Booking TRUCK” system that enables customers carrying out international road transport operations to reserve the date and the time of the Customs control services in advance. From his side, Deputy Head of the Customs House South, Andrei Botnari briefed the visitors on efforts of Moldovan Customs Service to reduce unprecedented queues at Moldovan borders with Ukraine and Romania and ease the strain on the transport bottlenecks.

Within the framework of the visit, DG Trade and EU Delegations’ officials were able to see the situation on the ground, in particular traffic bottlenecks that hinder the movement of cargo. In this regard, EU representatives were able to gather valuable information, map out main challenges and assess needs in cooperation with Moldovan authorities, which overall, will be beneficial for the functionality of the Solidarity Lanes and export of Ukrainian agricultural products throughout the alternative transport corridors.

EUBAM-led Task Force Tobacco discusses actions to tackle illicit tobacco trade 

On the 9th of November, EUBAM held the annual Task Force Tobacco meeting in Chisinau, the Republic of Moldova. Representatives from law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, SELEC, Europol and OLAF, as well as the private sector, examined the implications of Russia’s war of aggression on the illicit cigarette trade in Europe.

The meeting concentrated on three topical issues – new trends in illicit cigarette trade, changes in smuggling routes and investigation of illegal manufacturing. During the meeting, the business sector presented its overview on the European illicit cigarette markets; the representatives of the EU agencies talked about the results and most effective methods of combating illicit cigarette manufacturing; and Ukrainian and Moldovan officials shared insights on the recently dismantled illegal cigarette manufacturing sites in their countries.

All parties concluded that the war had changed the economic landscape and influenced the patterns of the illicit tobacco trade. The sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus and the blockade of some transport corridors have significantly decreased the smuggling of cigarettes to the EU but resulted in the increase of illicit cigarette manufacturing there. Therefore, the participants emphasized the need to strengthen surveillance over raw materials for cigarette production and listed specific risk indicators to detect illicit trafficking at the earliest opportunity to better cope with that phenomenon.

The European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) launched Task Force Tobacco in 2010. It offers a platform for law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, and Romania, as well as EU agencies and the private sector, to combat illicit tobacco trade.

 

EUBAM organized eight training events concentrating on fighting against smuggling

EUBAM organized eight training events in September-October for the Moldovan and Ukrainian partners from Border and Customs agencies to improve vessel search techniques and better combat firearms, cigarettes, and drug trafficking. Altogether 136 officers took part.

Maritime and river transport is the most effective and economical way of transporting large cargo from one place to another. Because of their size, ships are also a great hiding place for contraband. Giurgulesti International Port has 5-6 vessels coming in from around the world every week. Two EUBAM experts from Poland and Finland shared their knowledge to better prepare for the vessel search: the most efficient search techniques and practical risk analysis because improving those techniques are essential for the safety and security of the Republic of Moldova. But as the experts emphasized, you must use a lot of imagination to discover the hiding places because “smugglers have a lot of time to think about them at sea”.

The fight against drug trafficking is continuous all-around Europe, and The Republic of Moldova is no exception. Criminals are using the country to transit to the EU, but unfortunately, domestic demand for drugs is growing. To better combat drug trafficking, EUBAM organized four training events in September to introduce the latest practices from the experts of Germany and Poland. Altogether around half a hundred officers of Moldovan Border Police in Ungheni, Chisinau, Stefan Voda and Edinet learned about the recent case studies, different drugs and their effects, risk profiling, and most common smuggling routes.

Firearms trafficking fuels other types of serious crimes, and criminals use creative ways to hide them when crossing the border. EUBAM dedicated last week at the Ungheni Border Security Center of Excellence to combating weapons, ammunition and explosives smuggling training for future trainers. Participants from Moldovan Border Police and Ukrainian Border Guards learned about the trends in trafficking and how to remain safe while handling them, the importance of international information exchange etc.
Now colleagues from the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine are ready to take the knowledge to their organizations and train others. Trainers from the Polish Border Guard and the Moldovan General Police Inspectorate ensured that the future trainers were armed with all necessary skills to cascade the learned knowledge to their colleagues.

Also 50 Moldovan Customs officials participated in 4 theoretical-practical training activities to combat cigarette smuggling. The aim of the training was to improve the skills in selecting vehicles for controls, detecting potential smugglers, and learning about the construction of vehicles. EUBAM organised the training in customs posts in Palanca, Criva, and Cahul, as well as on the premises of the Training Center of the Customs Service.

International Trade Facilitation Forum highlights the importance of Moldova as a key bridge for EU-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes

On 29th September 2022, the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) and the Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova, organized the “International Trade Facilitation Forum – Response to the Blockade of Transport Corridors from Ukraine”. The event took place in a hybrid format in Chisinau with the participation of high-level representatives from the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the European Commission, the EU Delegation to Moldova,  EU High Level Advisors’ Mission to Moldova, the EU Advisory Mission to Ukraine, Customs Eastern and South-Eastern Land Border Expert Team, and the Customs Authorities of neighbouring EU Member States.

The one-day Forum in Chisinau was opened by Jānis Mažeiks, EU Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova, who emphasized the devastating global impact that Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine is having: “Russia is deliberately destroying Ukraine’s agricultural and transport infrastructure and equipment, causing fuel shortages, and creating worldwide food supply chain problems. Russia has in fact endangered food security for millions of people across the world. To address these unprecedented challenges, the EU, together with its EU member states, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova set up the EU Solidarity lanes. These joint achievements are a testimony of our solidarity. They also reflect our unicity, our determination to act jointly in support of Ukraine, of its people, but also for the people around the world in needs of these agricultural products”.

The Deputy Head of State Customs Service of Ukraine, Vladyslav Suvorov, thanked all present for the round of applause for all the Ukrainians who, both on the economic and actual frontlines, stand up to the Russian war of aggression. Turning to the forum’s participants, Mr. Suvorov stated, “The war changed the lives of Ukrainian citizens and institutions, and its consequences went way beyond the geographical borders of Ukraine. Because of the Ukrainian sea ports’ blockade, International Automobile Border Crossing Points came under pressure they had never experienced before. However, thanks to the good and close cooperation we established together with Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Hungarian, and Moldovan Customs, and border authorities, we were able to pass this test. Due to this very cooperation, we were able to handle the migration crisis at the very beginning of the war, at the same time enabling timely delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid into Ukraine. In this regard, I would like to thank the European Commission for the establishment of the Solidarity Lanes initiative, and on the part of the State Customs Service of Ukraine, we put our every effort to enable swift clearance and admission of cargo traffic.”

The Director of the Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Talmazan, emphasized the importance of cooperation: „Today’s event once again demonstrates the fruitful cooperation with customs administrations and other authorities from neighbouring states to identify the optimal solutions for facilitating trade, streamlining cross-border traffic, as well as supporting the strategic partnership between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union.” Mr Talmazan stressed that only by unifying our efforts, being anchored in implementing the above-mentioned measures and actions, we would succeed in further unblocking the transport corridors in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s road and railway transport corridors remain vital, even though the UN-backed agreements partially reopened Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi seaports for agricultural export, noted the Head of EUBAM, Slawomir Pichor. “EUBAM keeps working together with our partner services for the simplification of customs and border formalities and supporting Solidarity Lanes stronger than ever. The Mission continues to play the role of a catalyst and bring together services to identify bottlenecks and subsequently find solutions to streamline the cargo clearance. We will also continue our support to Moldovan and Ukrainian partners, especially through training, advice and advocacy for the joint control, as an effective way to speed up cargo movement across borders.”, Head of EUBAM concluded.

EUBAM continues to facilitate Solidarity Lanes ensuring uninterrupted agricultural export of Ukraine

In May, against the backdrop of the unjustified Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, EUBAM joined the European Commission’s Solidarity Lanes initiative that aims at establishing and supporting alternative logistics routes between the EU and Ukraine. On the one hand, these routes guarantee the uninterrupted export of Ukrainian agricultural goods through the EU ports to the world market; on the other, they enable the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid, food, fuel, etc., to all people who urgently need it in Ukraine.

On the Southern flank of the Solidarity lanes, the Republic of Moldova is now a transport hub between grain-rich Ukrainian South and the Romanian ports. To make the passage of Ukrainian cargo through the Republic of Moldova swifter and easier, EUBAM carried out the “Solidarity Lanes” exercise to identify challenges and enhance management of the increased border traffic.

In that connection, on 6 September, EUBAM team participated in the meeting between the Heads of Ukrainian Chernivtsi Customs and Moldovan Customs House “Nord”. In the same vein, on 7 September, at Ukrainian Mohyliv-Podilskyi Border Crossing Point (BCP), EUBAM experts facilitated the meeting between the heads of Vinnytsia Customs House and Moldovan Customs House “Nord”. During those meetings, the Mission’s experts shared EUBAM’s insights and proposed practical solutions to optimise the logistics and tackle overloading at the border. For instance, the Mission’s experts highlighted that passport control formalities should be prioritized for lorry drivers and suggested to better manage traffic before the BCP.  EUBAM team also supported an initiative to mandate two additional BCPs for clearance of agricultural goods in the Northern sector of the Moldova-Ukraine border.

Commenting on EUBAM’s role in Solidarity Lanes and the Mission’s perspective on it, the Head of EUBAM, Slawomir Pichor noted, “Although the UN-backed agreements partially reopened three seaports at the shores of the Odesa region for agricultural export, Ukraine’s major land and railway transport corridors remain of vital significance. Especially now, when the new crops are to be harvested and the winter is coming together with increased need in humanitarian assistance, we need to support Solidarity Lanes stronger than ever.”

6th Competition of Canine Teams “Together In The Fight Against Cigarettes And Tobacco Smuggling” – Photo Overview

On 24-25 August EUBAM attended the 6th Competition of Canine Teams under the slogan “Together In The Fight Against Cigarettes And Tobacco Smuggling” organized by the Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova. 14 canine teams of customs authorities from the Republic of Moldova Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Germany and Georgia participated in the different trials, showing their agility and good sense of smell.

 

Gathered at the invitation of EUBAM, the Arms Working Group discussed the trends of illicit arms trafficking

On 19 August, EUBAM together with Europol, OSCE, Frontex, UNODC, and law enforcement agencies from Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova convened the fifth meeting of the Arms Working Group on fighting weapons, ammunition and explosives trafficking from Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.

The online meeting focused on the assessment of threats related to arms trafficking in Europe, with particular emphasis on the availability of weapons, a consequence of Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

Experts from international institutions and law enforcement agencies from the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine presented the latest cases and trends in the detection of illegal weapons at border crossing posts and in the border area.

“The main objective of establishing this Group has been a consolidation of the knowledge, experiences, and efforts of Moldovan and Ukrainian law enforcement agencies as well as international actors to strengthen joint countermeasures against the trafficking of weapons, ammunition, explosives and CBRN materials. I’m deeply convinced that such meetings are a useful platform for discussing the current threats in the field of cross-border cooperation, as well as for implementing countermeasures to mitigate or eliminate defined hazards,” stresses Slawomir Pichor, Head of EUBAM.

The purpose of the joint cross-border working group is to assist Moldovan and Ukrainian authorities in effectively countering illicit weapons trafficking and related serious and organized crime in the region and to foster international cooperation.

EUBAM exercise ‘Solidarity Lanes’ supports the swift cargo flow of the Ukrainian goods

The ongoing EUBAM exercise is reviewing the clearance of cargo trucks exporting Ukrainian agricultural goods at the border crossing points along the Moldova-Ukrainian border for a smoother cargo flow.

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and its blockade of Ukrainian ports disrupted the supply chains and trade routes. In July, agreements were reached for ensuring safe shipping grain, food products and fertilisers from the Ukrainian seaports. To also secure alternative routes for transport, earlier in May the European Commission set out an action plan to establish ‘Solidarity Lanes’ to transport agricultural goods through road and rail along the Moldova-Ukrainian border.

“By evaluating the capacity of the busiest points, we can, together with our partners, identify challenges and better manage the increased border traffic both in the short and long term. It is essential to optimise the logistic chains and avoid, as much as possible, overloading the border crossings,” explains Slawomir Pichor, the Head of the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine.

During the 10-day exercise, EUBAM experts, in cooperation with the Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova, the State Customs Service of Ukraine, the Moldovan National Agency for Food Safety, as well as other agencies, monitor both entry and exit from Ukraine/Moldova, the clearance of trucks with Ukraine’s agricultural goods transiting through Moldovan customs territory.

“We advise on actions to be taken and share the experiences of the EU member states’ solutions to similar situations,” Pichor stresses. The results of the exercise will be available for the respective agencies in September.

Established in 2005, EUBAM promotes border control, customs and trade norms and practices that meet European Union standards and serves the needs of its two partner countries, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

EUBAM shares best European practices in the fight against pharmaceutical crime

On 18 – 21 July, EUBAM organized profiled training on pharmaceutical crime for more than one hundred Ukrainian and Moldovan law enforcement experts involved in apprehending illegal medicines at the border.

The training was held by EUBAM-invited experts Professor Zbigniew Fijałek from the Medical University of Warsaw, and representative of the Polish Central Investigation Bureau of the Police, Commissioner Piotr Woźniak. Professor Fijałek and Commissioner Woźniak shared their insights and best EU practices in the fight against illicit pharmaceuticals with Ukrainian and Moldovan Customs and Border agencies. In the course of the event, the participants were able to deepen their knowledge in the selected aspects of organized pharmaceutical crime, such as distribution channels and modi operandi. Special attention was paid to new psychoactive substances, such as designer drugs, falsified drugs and other psychoactive substances. At the same time, the participants got acquainted with the latest technical novelties in the field of forensic drug testing.

The Head of EUBAM, Slawomir Pichor, stressed the importance of the fight against pharmaceutical crime, “In times of crisis, the demand for vital medical supply rises and the issue of illicit medicines and medical supplies becomes even more acute. COVID-19 pandemic and the beginning of brutal and unjustified Russia’s war against Ukraine dramatically increased the demand for such goods on the black market. Criminals take advantage of it by producing and smuggling falsified pharmaceutical products, which puts public health and safety at risk. That’s why it is crucial for EUBAM to assist Ukrainian and Moldovan partner services to stay abreast of the latest trends of pharmaceutical crime so they can stop it at the very entry into the country.”

Head of EUBAM coordinates cooperation with Ukrainian partners in Odesa

On 24 June, the Head of EUBAM, Slawomir Pichor, paid a working visit to Odesa. The aim of the trip was to assess the situation on the ground and coordinate with the Ukrainian partners priority areas for further action. 

 

At the beginning of his trip, the Head of EUBAM visited the Mission’s HQ to meet with the national staff that remained in Odesa. In the course of the meeting, the Head of Mission thanked all the personnel for their invaluable service and commended their resilience and commitment. 

 

During the visit, the Head of EUBAM held meetings with the Head of Odesa Regional Military Administration, Maksym Marchenko, Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in Odesa, Serhii Orlov, the Head of Southern Regional Directorate of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, Major General Serhii Mul and Acting Head of the Odesa Customs House, Vitalii Zakolodyazhnyi. The Head of Mission expressed solidarity with the people of Ukraine and honoured those, who defend Ukraine’s independence from the Russian unjust war. On their part, the Ukrainian partners stressed the importance of EUBAM’s presence and work at the Ukraine-Moldova border during the current critical times. The parties discussed initiatives aimed at streamlining exports of agricultural products from Ukraine to EU countries, facilitating the movement of trucks subsequently reducing waiting times at border crossing points. At the same time, the Partners examined the Mission’s capacity-building proposals that will enhance border management and strengthen the response to new challenges at the Moldova-Ukraine border.

 

“EU support for Ukraine is stronger than ever and our Mission is also stepping up our contribution. The unprovoked Russian invasion creates new challenges and threats at the Ukraine-Moldova border. To overcome them, EUBAM is ready to work with our Ukrainian partners, providing all-around assistance. As the historic move has been made and Ukraine embarks on the journey towards EU accession, EUBAM will always be there to support our partners on their European path,” the Head of EUBAM, General Slawomir Pichor said.

Streamlining the cargo flow from Ukraine to the EU discussed by the Head of EUBAM with the Head of the Moldovan Customs Service

On 8 June, the Head of Mission, Slawomir Pichor, held a working meeting with the Head of the Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova, Mr Igor Talmazan and his team. The EU High Level Adviser on Customs and Tax Policy, Mr Rosario de Blasio, also participated in the meeting. The sides discussed current challenges for the Customs Service arising from the increased flow of goods at the borders and the initiatives aimed at streamlining the management of cargo flow from Ukraine to the EU.

 

In the course of the meeting, the Head of the Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Talmazan, presented the initiatives undertaken to facilitate the passage of trucks and reduce waiting times at the Border Crossing Points. The sides discussed the Customs Service actions introduced to streamline the processing of cargo for the import, export, and transit of goods from Ukraine.

 

From his side, the Head of EUBAM offered the Mission’s observations and suggestions regarding the current situation at the border. The Head of Mission also introduced EUBAM initiative to organize a High Level International Seminar on managing the flow of goods in a crisis situation and sharing best European practices, which the Moldovan Customs Service unanimously supported.

The EU steps up support to border management on the Moldova-Ukraine border

The mandate of the European Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) has today been enhanced to allow the granting of executive powers to EUBAM, at the request of the Republic of Moldova and/or Ukraine. This will enable EUBAM staff to directly participate in border control, and complement the border management teams of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex). By doing so, the European Commission is making additional support available to Moldovan Border Police officers.

Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Olivér Várhelyi, said: “The European Union stands with Ukraine, and we are stepping up our support to help the Republic of Moldova address the situation at its borders. EUBAM and Frontex will work together to help the Republic of Moldova efficiently manage arrivals at its borders with Ukraine while maintaining a high level of security”.

Since the start of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, EUBAM has reoriented its actions to assist in managing the influx of refugees into the Republic of Moldova, notably redeploying its staff to the border crossing points most under pressure.

The mission, with its new enhanced mandate, will complement the deployment of Frontex border management teams, and EUBAM and Frontex will closely cooperate in their tasks.

To help address the refugee inflows, scaled-up support for EUBAM worth €15 million will allow for the recruitment of additional staff, and provide equipment as well as training to newly-hired Moldovan Border Police officers.

In addition, the EU has launched a new action worth €15 million to support effective and dignified first line processing and transit of affected Eastern Partnership citizens, as well as safe and dignified voluntary returns of vulnerable third country nationals to their countries of origin.

Further funds could be foreseen to increase direct support for border management on key border crossing points at the Moldova-Ukraine border.

For more information follow the European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.

EUBAM boosts risk management capacity of Moldovan Customs Service

Risk management plays a pivotal role in handling constant and emerging threats to safety and security of countries and their citizens, protecting and facilitating the legitimate trade. Therefore, it is important for customs authorities to stay abreast of new approaches and innovative tools in this area. On 12 May 2022, in order to build up the capacity of the Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova (MDCS) in this sphere, EUBAM conducted a relevant webinar where more than twenty customs officers involved in risk management activities from the central and regional levels took an active part. 

 

EUBAM experts, together with specialists from the Finnish Customs, Romanian Customs Authority, and National Revenue Administration of Poland, presented best European practices in the organization of risk management. In particular, special attention was paid to intelligence centers, advanced IT customs tools, and WCO’s risk management maturity levels. The European experts also got Moldovan risk analysis officers acquainted with key objectives of the EU Strategy on customs risk management, which can be used as a benchmark for ensuring high-quality implementation of the MDCS Risk Management Strategy. 

 

Among the novel concepts and trends presented during the webinar were the EU common risk management framework, common risk criteria, standards for security & safety, and financial risks. The participants also learned more about the role of pre-loading and pre-arrival information, priority control area, information sharing mechanisms, etc. Acquired know-how will boost the efforts of Moldovan Customs Service to enhance its risk management and assist in aligning it to the EU standards. 

EUBAM provides continuous support to the Ukrainian refugees

Since the onset of the Russian invasion on 24 February, EUBAM has played an essential role in facilitating the crisis management at the Ukraine-Moldova border. Being already present on the ground, the Mission was able to quickly assess the situation and start operating at critical locations, assisting refugees as well as border and customs authorities. 

Despite harsh weather, short daylight time, and long working shifts, the Mission was always at the border to support Ukrainians fleeing from war. At the entrance to the BCPs EUBAM experts provided all the essential information, explaining border crossing procedures for the people, most of whom were leaving their country for the first time in their lives. Crossing the border in such harsh conditions may be very stressful for the kids, so the Mission’s experts offered them toys and sweets to give some comfort and joy. Whenever possible, EUBAM teams provided support and helped the refugees on the spot, especially women with small children and people in need, carrying their luggage and facilitating transportation for pedestrians. Moreover, at Starokozache, to help the people traveling without vehicles, EUBAM outsourced the transportation services to cover the distance between the Ukrainian and Moldovan BCPs, which is around one kilometer. 

Considering that the final destination for most refugees was the European Union, EUBAM teams also explained entry requirements in the different EU Member States and advised on the best travel routes. To further facilitate the refugees’ transfer through the Republic of Moldova, EUBAM produced a guide with a map of transit routes to the EU and useful country-specific information, links, and resources. Now, EUBAM experts disseminate the guide at the border crossing points, and its electronic version is available on the Mission’s official website.

As of 6 May, more than 450 thousand Ukrainian refugees entered the Republic of Moldova, according to UNHCR data. A big part of them went to the Republic of Moldova in the first days – tens of kilometers-long car queues, hundreds of people, mainly women, children, and the elderly, were waiting to cross the border. Due to the unusually high number of refugees, border guard and customs officers were overloaded. To facilitate their work, EUBAM experts assisted in managing the refugee flow before the BCPs. Following the requests of the Moldovan side, EUBAM customs experts were also involved in the clearance of the increasing volumes of humanitarian aid entering Ukraine. At the same time, the Mission procured and donated first aid kits and meals ready to eat for the Ukrainian border authorities. 

Being present at the Moldova-Ukraine border for 16 years, EUBAM used its vast experience to assist humanitarian NGOs, UN agencies, and other international organizations that came to help the Ukrainian refugees. EUBAM experts facilitated their interaction with Moldovan and Ukrainian border authorities on the ground and assisted in implementing their activities.

EUBAM presents its 2021 Annual Report

EUBAM is glad to launch its latest Annual Report covering the period between December 2020 and November 2021. It highlights the Mission’s support for the major achievements made by our Partner Services over the reporting period. At the same time, the report demonstrates EUBAM’s principal ongoing activities and the achieved results in supporting confidence building measures across the Nistru River, implementing the Integrated Border Management concept and combating cross-border crime.

“I am honoured to present you the 2021 EUBAM Annual Report, which showcases accomplishments we achieved together with our Partner Services throughout the past year. The pandemic, dynamic political situation and budgetary constraints have put the implementation of our activities to the test. However, despite all those difficulties, I’m glad to state that the Mission has successfully passed it,” the Head of Mission Slawomir Pichor noted.

Useful information for Ukrainian refugees on transit through the Republic of Moldova

Considering the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine, many people are continuously fleeing the country in search of safety for themselves and their families. To support the Ukrainians, the EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine produced a guide with a map of transit routes to the EU through the Republic of Moldova, which also includes useful information for the trip. The guide will be disseminated by EUBAM experts at the border crossing points and its electronic version can be downloaded at the bottom of this webpage.

This guide provides useful links and resources that will help and guide you on your way out of Ukraine and in your further journey. As well, here, you can find country-specific information.

When preparing to leave:

  • Make sure the car fuel tank is full and your mobile phone charged; take water, food for several days, external battery/charger for the phone, and blankets. Your trip might take longer than expected due to checkpoints, border crossing points and traffic jams.
  • Take all documents necessary to cross borders. It will ease up the process. But don’t worry if you don’t have all, refugees will not be refused at any border! Save photos of your documents on your phone and send them to your email as a backup copy. 
  • Take cash with you as your credit or bank cards might not work in foreign countries.

 

While on the road:

  • Choose less busy border crossing points not to get stuck in a traffic jam. For up-to-date information on waiting time – check the Border Police of the Republic of Moldova official Facebook page
  • Refill your car regularly in order to have at least half the fuel tank all the time during your trip. 

 

When you cross the border:

  • Have all your travel documents prepared in advance.
  • Don’t leave your luggage unattended and hold kids by the hand so they don’t get lost.
  • Declare your cash and valuables with customs officers at the border crossing points.

 

After you cross the border:

  • Keep regular contact with family and friends. Inform them every time you change location.
  • Do not trust or follow persons you don’t know or just follow in groups. 
  • Watch your children at all times and do not leave them unattended.
  • Do not hesitate to ask Police officers or humanitarian organisations for support. They are present at nearly every border crossing point and at major train stations all over Europe. 

 

Useful links:

European Commission guide – Key information about your rights with regard to crossing the border into an EU country, eligibility for temporary protection, and applying for international protection, as well as the rights of travel inside the European Union.

EU NEIGHBOURS east  – Practical support for Ukrainian refugees: From procedures to transport, accommodation and jobs

UN Refugee Agency Ukraine – Information for refugees and asylum-seekers

Ukrainian national portal on countering human trafficking and assistance to migrants – Information on safety rules for girls and women crossing the border, as well as basic information on entry into the EU countries.

VisitUkraine – Ukrainian official portal, useful information for people leaving Ukraine

Moldova:

Dopomoga.gov.md – Official aggregator with useful information for those who decided to stay, or transit the Republic of Moldova;

lmmigration and Asylum Bureau of the Republic of Moldova – Information on receiving asylum in the Republic of Moldova

Romania:

Dopomoha.ro – Official aggregator of useful information for those who decided to stay, or transit Romania

Interactive map of transit routes through Romania to other EU states

Bulgaria:

Bulgaria for Ukraine – Platform supported by the government helps to provide evacuation, transport, accommodation, medical and humanitarian aid, legal assistance and settling down in Bulgaria

asylum.bg – Information on entry and stay in Bulgaria

Slovakia:

Official webpage of Slovakian Public sector – Information about entry and stay in Slovakia

ukraineslovakia.sk  – Aggregator of useful information for those who decided to move to Slovakia

Germany:

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees – Up to date information on entry and stay in Germany 

German Deutsche Bahn railway association – Information about free railway traveling 

Austria:

Austrian Federal Agency for Reception and Support Services – Information on entry and stay in Austria

Hungary:

Brochure: Travelling regulations for Ukrainians in Hungary

Hungarian Helsinki Committee – Information about special status and asylum in Hungary

Belgium:

Assistance in Belgium – Information on entry and stay in Belgium and further links for more information

Switzerland:

Swiss Refugee Council – Instructions for asylum seekers in Switzerland

Netherlands:

Dutch Council for Refugees – Information on entry and stay in the Netherlands

Finland:

Finnish Migration Service – Information on entry and stay in Finland

Czech Republik:

Official website of the ministry of interior – Information on entry and stay in the Czech Republic

United Kingdom:

gov.uk – Information about receiving a visa and asylum in the United Kingdom