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Boats Carrying Iranian Refugees Stopped in Black Sea

Refugees begin protest march To Hungarian border - file photo.
Refugees begin protest march To Hungarian border - file photo.

Boats carrying more than 200 refugees, including citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq were intercepted and led into the port of Mangalia, Romanian Coast Guard reported on Saturday, September 9.

One of the boats with 97 asylum seekers, including 36 children, who declared themselves as Iraqi and Iranian citizens, was located on Friday night, close to the Bulgarian border, in Romanian territorial waters, in the Black Sea.

Forty men, 21 women and 36 children were on board.

The boat was led to the port of Mangalia where the Romanian authorities set up tents for the asylum seekers. Hours later, all 97 passengers of the boat were taken to a refugee camp.

Just hours before, the Romanian Coastguard had intercepted a fishing boat carrying 120 people in international waters. In this case, the Turkish authorities sent two boats, which brought the migrants back to Turkey, AP reported.

Bulgaria and Romania are members of the European Union but are not part of Europe's visa-free travel zone, or Schengen Agreement.

Many asylum seekers who try to reach Europe through Turkey, use the Black Sea route to illegally enter Romania.

According to AP, since the route via the Mediterranean is increasingly difficult to pass and the so-called Balkan route is effectively closed, people smugglers seem to be setting up a new Black Sea route.

So far, relatively few refugees had tried to enter Romania by crossing the Danube river. In the past year, several migrants, including children, have drowned while trying.

The authorities in the country have caught 2,800 so-called “illegal migrants” during the first seven months of this year. According to a press release by the Border Police in Bucharest, the refugees were “organized in 416 migrant groups, in which 170 facilitators were identified”.

Meanwhile, Germany's interior minister has called for benefits for asylum-seekers to be standardized across the European Union, reducing his country's attractiveness for would-be migrants.

Thomas de Maiziere also said in an interview with the daily Rheinische Post, for legal procedures surrounding asylum and deportation to be standardized.

He said that asylum-seekers rejected in Germany can delay their deportation using various legal channels, "significantly more than elsewhere."

More than 1 million people came to Germany as asylum-seekers in 2015 and 2016. De Maiziere said that "the payments for refugees are quite high by EU standards. That is part of the Germany's pull effect."

With reporting by AP