The number of arrivals to Romania by sea has increased over the past months, as indicated by several incidents of Coast Guard interception of boats travelling through the Black Sea.

Reports from the Coast Guard reveal an increasing number of interceptions of boats in August and September including incidents involving 69 persons on 13 August 2017, including 10 women and 29 children; 70 persons on 20 August 2017, including 12 women and 23 children; 87 persons on 3 September 2017, including 16 women and 23 children; 120 persons on 8 September 2017; 97 persons on 9 September 2017, including 21 women and 36 children. 157 persons on 12 September 2017 including 56 children.

Most European countries report decreases in the number of people seeking protection this year. This includes neighbouring Bulgaria, where 2,084 applications have been lodged in the first six months of 2017, compared to 7,845 in the first half of 2016. In contrast, Romania has registered 1,995 asylum applications in the first half of 2017, more than the number of claims (1,880) registered throughout the entire year 2016.

Romania has also received a significant number of asylum seekers through the EU relocation scheme. It has so far relocated 45 from Italy and 682 from Greece, while another 3,453 must be transferred in accordance with its share. Another 11 people have been resettled from Turkey so far.

The EU Observer quotes The EU’s border agency, Frontex for stating that it is too early to establish whether the route will reopen and that the increase in 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.”

“Very little is known about the workings of the asylum procedure and reception conditions in Romania at the moment, and regardless of how we translate the latest increase of arrivals, that gap needs to be filled. The country has not particularly been under the spotlight on the migration map but there are indications that standards should be more closely monitored,” says Minos Mouzourakis, Senior AIDA Coordinator for ECRE.

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ECRE would like to thank Felicia Nica for additional information provided for the purpose of this article.


Photo: (cc) Stuart Rankin, 17 February 2017