Migrants intercepted in the Black Sea

A Turkish boat in the Black Sea near the village of Kiylos (Reuters)

TMP _ 17/09/2017

Coastguards in Romania are warning that a new route for migrants trying to reach Europe across the Black Sea could prove even more dangerous than crossing the Mediterranean.

In the past couple of weeks, several boats with migrants on board have been stopped by the Romanian coastguard in the Black Sea.
On 9 September, coastguards intercepted a fishing boat in the Black Sea with 97 migrants on board, 36 of them children. The evening before, another boat was stopped as it was heading for Romanian territorial waters. The fishing boat, with about 120 migrants on board, was handed over to Turkish coastguards.

On 3 September, a fishing boat carrying 87 migrants was intercepted as it tried to reach the Romanian coast from the northern coast of Turkey. In August, another three boats with migrants on board that were trying to make it to Romania across the Black Sea were also apprehended.

Krzysztof Borowski, a spokesperson for the EU border protection agency Frontex said he regarded the incidents as an attempt by smugglers in Turkey to reactivate the Black Sea route.

According to Borowski, weather conditions on the Black Sea are often worse than in the Mediterranean, with much stronger winds. “Migrants are in bigger danger, especially if they take smaller vessels. It is a rough sea and a difficult one to cross,” he said.

Samoilă Răzvan, director of a Romanian NGO that offers assistance to migrants, said the latest incidents on the Black Sea were tests run by smugglers. Răzvan agreed that the water and weather conditions in the Black Sea are very dangerous.

“The Mediterranean is not like the Black Sea. In the Black Sea, you don’t know what will happen in 20 minutes’ time. These migrants who took this route on the Black Sea must have experienced a very hard journey,” he said.