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Romanian Coast Guard Rescues 150 Migrants on Black Sea

Hundreds of migrants have entered Romania by sea or been sent back to Turkey already this month.

13 September 2017

The Romanian coast guard rescued more than 150 people, including 56 children, from a boat on the Black Sea Tuesday, The Associated Press reports.

 

The boat was towed to Constanta, a port about 250 kilometers (155 miles) from Bucharest, after it sent out a distress signal. The passengers were from Iran and Iraq.

 

The Romanian and Bulgarian coast guards have intercepted three other boats this month carrying a total of about 300 migrants, while according to Vatican Radio, Turkish authorities said they halted boats carrying 313 migrants on the Black Sea over the weekend.

 

The Black Sea route from northern Turkey via Romania may be even more treacherous than the Mediterranean route, but with increasingly fewer options, smugglers may be trying it out, reports the Guardian.

 

Krzysztof Borowski, a spokesman for the EU border protection agency Frontex, told the Guardian that the route had been used previously, and “perhaps there is a move to reactivate [the route] … and test it.”

 

However, he also pointed out that while the number of migrants using the route has increased, the number was still too small to signal a new trend.

 

According to Borowski, the Black Sea experiences even harsher weather conditions than the Mediterranean and is difficult to cross.

 

More than 2,200 migrants died trying to cross the central Mediterranean in the first seven months of this year – a death rate of about 3 percent, the International Organization for Migration reports.

 

According to the Guardian, via a Bucharest-based migration NGO spokesperson, new arrivals are reluctant to stay in Romania and even those resettled under the EU quota scheme attempt to relocate quickly.   

 

Despite early resistance, Romania agreed to take 4,200 refugees under the EU quota scheme and as of the end of August, 727 refugees had been resettled.

 

 

  • Romania mostly escaped the 2015-2016 migration crisis that saw more than 1 million people cross Europe’s borders fleeing war and economic hardship. Last week a decision from the European Court of Justice ruled the controversial migrant quotas legal, dismissing a challenge put by Slovakia and Hungary.

 

  • Women and children are especially at risk of trafficking, violence, and exploitation while trying to reach Europe, according to a joint report put out last month by the IOM and UNICEF.

 

  • The Western Balkan route, which saw record-breaking migrant numbers in 2015 and 2016, is now effectively sealed, according to the IOM.

 

Compiled by Kate Syme-Lamont

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