Since the eruption of the war in Ukraine, more than 5 million refugees have entered EU countries and enjoy free movement and hospitality on their whole territory. Not having documents, some refugees get stuck in bordering countries. Moldova is one of them. Here, the “FRIȘPA”(Faculty of International Relations, Political Sciences, and Public Administration) refugee center hosts mainly Ukrainian Roma refugees. This series, as a participatory project, documents their life since the beginning of the war.
A high percentage of Roma people are undocumented due partially to the systematic discrimination in their home country. Their options are therefore very limited. One has to stay in the “FRISPA” refugee center, due to the segregation, or they can only choose to apply for asylum in neighboring Romania. The second is a less appealing option for most because it would mean having to navigate a foreign language and being much further from home.
But, Moldova is hosting the highest number of shelter-seekers per capita. Even though the enthusiastic help from the public is unprecedented, the government is having difficulties tackling the situation. The limited resources do not reach this refugee center always in time. The Roma community sometimes would have to wait for essential goods like sugar, tea, and sometimes even water. Once serving as a university building, in “FRIȘPA” the facilities are not proper for accommodating people for longer-term.
Despite the precarious conditions, in the center life is vibrant, birthdays are celebrated, and more and more activities are organized. No matter whether on move or being stuck, people come together in crises. Now, 5 months in, some people are becoming a part of the Moldovan labor market, and slowly getting integrated. But, does the temporary get normalized? And how far the burden of systematic racism carried from their country will reach them wherever they go?
Dániel Gerse is a Hungarian-born documentary photographer and architect based between Moldova and Berlin.
In 2018 at Index.hu, a well-known Hungarian internet news portal, he learned the core of photojournalism. Then, he participated in a photo program at PhotoManhattan School in New York under the mentorship of Skye Tan. The experience of the course led him to his main interest in visual storytelling, which now focuses mainly on marginalized communities.
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