Seminar Oradea 1

Training Program for Border Police in Romania

On March 6-7, 2023, the Auschwitz Institute’s Mediterranean Basin Programs (MBP) team implemented a training program for future border police agents entitled “Strengthening Democratic Resilience in Border Spaces during a Global Migration Crisis” in Oradea, Romania,  Implemented in cooperation with the Border Police Agents Training School “Avram Iancu” this customized program benefitted 240 students. Over two intensive days, participants discussed topics related to the current challenges of the global migration crisis for people on the move and border communities.

The underlying assumptions of the program are that it is possible to prevent atrocities and that protecting migrants – especially those escaping from mass violence and other risks – is an effective means of preventing mass atrocities.

The program was structured into two seminar days and had four main objectives:

  1. Introduce participants to the concepts of mass atrocity crimes and the typologies of migration generated by ongoing atrocities and highlight the relationship between these two phenomena.
  2. To empower participants with practical competencies (foundational knowledge and skills) necessary to protect migrants and prevent future atrocities.
  3. To critically examine the normative and political framework for the protection of migrant populations seeking refuge from ongoing mass violence.
  4. To foster an open and inclusive dialogue, highlighting the role of discrimination and “alterity” in perpetuating inequality.

During the first day, Dr. Gabriela Ghindea, Director of AIPG’s Mediterranean Basin Programs, provided an introduction to mass atrocities, highlighting both risk factors and prevention strategies for these complex processes. She was joined by  MBP Program Associate and AIPG trainer Paula Beudean, who led the discussion on the different types and causes of migration with the attendees. Additionally, she reviewed the institutional framework for addressing migration at the national and international levels.

Dr. Anatolie Coșciug, Associate Professor at “Lucian Blaga” University, Romania, and researcher at the Centre for Comparative Migration Studies (“Babeș-Bolyai” University, Romania), provided instruction on risk categories for migrant populations and the international framework for prevention.

Later in the day, Ms. Beudean was joined by Dr. Ovidiu Oltean, a researcher at the Transilvania Executive Education and the Centre for Comparative Migration Studies (“Babeș-Bolyai” University, Romania) to introduce strategies for preventing violence against migrants and different avenues to protect people on the move. During the program’s final session, participants debated best practices and challenges in Romania during the refugee crisis caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The Auschwitz Institute offered this program for the first time in Romania to a unique audience of border police agents-in-training. In line with AIPG’s training pedagogy, the format fostered an inclusive and dynamic learning community through numerous interactive exercises and continuous feedback.

Dr. Gabriela Ghindea  remarked on the important timing of this program, noting:

In recent years, Romania has been considered a transit country and a hot spot on the Balkan route. The concentration of people on the move in border regions, especially in the northwestern/western areas of the country, is expected to grow in the future, generating both challenges for local authorities and frustration among local communities. After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the duality in the approaches to the migration phenomenon, observed throughout Europe, was also noticeable at the national level. Romanians actively supported Ukrainian refugees, with an unprecedented and commendable commitment from society and State authorities. At the same time, migrants arriving from other war-torn regions were categorized as ‘illegals,’ and the narratives emerging around them in the public sphere often had hostile, racist, and xenophobic undertones. In this context, the Auschwitz Institute identified both the need and the opportunity to nuance the discourses about the complexity of the migration phenomenon in Romania in an attempt to prepare border police forces for the next waves of migration, with the aim of preventing identity-based violence and further atrocities.