The migration crisis in Europe has taken another dangerous turn.
As authorities have blocked migrants from crossing to Europe over the Mediterranean, they may now be trying to cross the dangerous Black Sea, according to reports of a handful of incidents over the past month that led Romanian authorities to identify the suspected new route.
Since Aug. 13, various boats have been intercepted with a total of 591 migrants discovered, according to reports from The Guardian .
Just this past Saturday, a fishing boat with 97 migrants was intercepted by the Romanian coast guard. The night before, border police intercepted another boat holding 120 people. Days before that, on Sept. 3, a fishing boat was stopped as it headed for Romania carrying 87 migrants, assumed to have been coming from the northern coast of Turkey, The Guardian reported.
In August, the Romanian coast guard intercepted a boat with 68 people off the country’s coast and also found 150 Syrian refugees boarding a boat in Turkey heading for Romania. Earlier that month, the coast guard discovered another 69 Iraqi migrants in Romanian waters.
While less affected than surrounding countries by the refugee crisis, it seems that Romania could be the next country to be hit with the emergency.
Krzysztof Borowski, a spokesperson for the border protection agency Frontex, told The Guardian that it was too early to assume this was a new trend, but he said this could point to an attempt by smugglers in Turkey to resurrect the old route that passes through the Black Sea.
“In the past it has been used. In 2014 we had 430 people arrive by the Black Sea to Romania and Bulgaria. In 2015 it was 68. In 2016 it was one. Perhaps there is a move to reactivate, for smugglers to put people through there and test it,” he told The Guardian.
Routes like this are notoriously dangerous. The world has witnessed what attempts to cross the Mediterranean can lead to, as thousands of refugees drown on route in 2016, including 3-year-old Alan Kurdi.
While it cannot be confirmed that other refugees have future plans to attempt this route, one conclusion can be drawn.
“What is clear is that when legal avenues are closed, people fleeing war and persecution take desperate measures to find safety,” Gabriela Leu, a spokesperson for UNHCR Romania, told The Guardian.
There have been six individuals taken into custody on suspicion of human trafficking in these cases, according to The Guardian.
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