Thursday

5th Aug 2021

Smugglers test migrant Black Sea route to Romania

  • Some 200 migrants in boats were led to the port in Romania over the weekend. (Photo: Alexandru Panoiu)

Smugglers are possibly looking to reopen a Black Sea migrant smuggling route between Turkey and Romania, with hundreds of people having already arrived by boat over the past few weeks.

The EU's border agency, Frontex, said on Tuesday (12 September) that the recent arrivals are likely part of a broader effort by smugglers to see if they can start sending people towards Romania instead of the Greek islands.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Frontex says the roughness of the Black Sea and the long distance from Turkey to Romania discourages many from attempting the route. (Photo: Wikipedia)

"It is a bit early to talk about the route reopening, but it could be that the smugglers are testing how it works - that is a possibility," said a spokeswoman from the Warsaw-based agency.

"We think it might just be testing. We've been watching this route since 2011," she said.

The Romanian coastguard had announced over the weekend that some 200 refugees from Iran and Iraq had arrived by boat at the port of Mangalia, Romania. One of the boats was carrying 36 children.

Eugenio Ambrosi, the Brussels office regional director of the International Organization for Migration, also said on Tuesday that the arrivals in Romania are "a clear indication" that traffickers and smugglers are looking into alternatives.

Romania is not a part of the passport-free Schengen travel area. However, with the Western Balkan route closed and people getting stuck at the Greek islands, some may see Romania as a more attractive option.

The arrivals in Romania also come amid a relative daily increase in people arriving on the Greek islands, when compared to last year.

An average of some 93 per day are said still to be landing on the Greek coasts, with many ending up in lengthy asylum procedures and in poor conditions.

Almost 1,900 have been sent back to Turkey since the EU and Ankara's migrant deal was agreed to in early 2016.

These returns may see a dramatic increase should the Greek council of state plenary rule against pending cases filed by Syrians on whether Turkey is safe for refugees.

Those cases are still pending, while political pressure mounts among Greek authorities to fast track the appeals process.

Opinion

EU charting the wrong course in migration policy

European officials have faced strong criticism for prioritising security interests over the rights of vulnerable people, in their efforts to stem migration flows.

Italy seeks EU help on migrant boat arrivals

Italy's interior minister Luciana Lamorgese has requested the EU convene an home affairs ministerial to discuss migrant and refugee arrivals - as NGOs seek to disembark over 800 rescued people.

Telegram groups lure migrant hopefuls to Lithuania

Telegram messaging boards are providing false hopes for young migrants seeking to enter Lithuania through Belarus. A handful seen by EUobserver include links to travel agencies, costs, and routes. Most will likely ended up being detained in Lithuania.

Feature

Third-time lucky for one Syrian grandmother in Denmark

In Denmark, Syrian men aged 18-42 are protected against returning, as they would be conscripted into the army, while many women, children and elderly Syrian refugees are having their asylum revoked.

NGOs rescue around 800 people in Mediterranean

The NGO rescue vessel Ocean Viking has 555 people onboard, while Sea Watch 3 has 250. The rescues come as the Libyans intercept over 1,000 people in two days, while another boat in Malta's search-and-rescue zone pleas for help.

News in Brief

  1. EU secures deal with Novavax for potential Covid-19 vaccine
  2. France fined €10m for failing to tackle air pollution
  3. Fire near Athens forces thousands to evacuate
  4. EU to Lebanon: 'deliver results' on Beirut blast probe
  5. Belarus opposition leader demands regime end
  6. Croatia's border-monitoring of migrant rights 'falls short'
  7. Court stops Austria's Afghan deportation, as conflict worsens
  8. 'Missing' Belarus exiles group chief found dead in Kyiv

'We are not slaves': Brussels' migrant hunger-strike

Almost 500 undocumented migrants in Brussels have been demanding a legal pathway for residency in Belgium. Most have been on hunger strike since 23 May, with some now refusing water. MEPs are demanding the Belgian government offer them a solution.

Exclusive

EU firms up plans for Libya military mission

The EU is firming up plans for a military mission to Libya in order to compete with foreign powers there, according to a leaked paper seen by EUobserver.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Italy seeks EU help on migrant boat arrivals
  2. WHO calls for vaccine-booster pause to help poor countries
  3. Romania selling on its jabs, despite low vaccination rates
  4. Cyprus' Varosha is Erdogan's canary in the coalmine
  5. Europe sees drop in Covid-19 cases
  6. Burkinis and 'soul caps' - policing Olympic women back in fashion
  7. Telegram groups lure migrant hopefuls to Lithuania
  8. Third-time lucky for one Syrian grandmother in Denmark

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us