From file: Police find 71 dead migrants in a freezer truck in Austria (2015)
From file: Police find 71 dead migrants in a freezer truck in Austria (2015)

Romanian border police have found 91 migrants in a truck transporting automobile parts. Almost one third of them were children. The refugees from Syria and Iraq were headed for Western Europe.

According to Romanian authorities the refugees on board the truck were planning to cross the border between Romania and Hungary to reach the Schengen area of Europe illegally. The police found 29 children between the ages 2 and 17 in the Turkish vehicle. There were also 62 adults, 44 men and 18 women.

The truck driver explained he did not know about the refugees inside the vehicle, police reports state. He was headed to Norway and was planning to cross the border between Nadlac in Romania and Csanadpalota in Hungary. While EU-member Hungary is part of the Schengen-area whose states have mostly abolished border and passport controls, Romania is not part of the area even though it is member of the European Union.

Suffocation and dehydration

Ever since Hungary secured its borders with Serbia, Romania has become a major transit country for people headed to Western Europe via land crossing.

Refugees attempting to enter Europe inside trucks is common. Although much less frequent than the attempts to cross the Mediterrenean Sea on a boat, this method of transport is no less dangerous. People are crammed into overloaded trunks without food or water, often for many days in a row. Migrants often die a gruesome death because of dehydration or suffocation.

Trial against traffickers 

In August 2015, a similar incident ended tragically: 71 refugees were found dead in a truck which its drivers had left standing on an Austrian motorway. All passengers had suffocated and their bodies were burnt in the heat. This case got media attention worldwide. Last week, trial started for the men charged with the horrific death of the refugees. Eleven men went on trial; four of the suspects have been charged with “homicide with particular cruelty” and face life in prison.

Hungary took over the case because the refugees were attested to have died already on Hungarian territory and not in Austria, where the truck was found. The alleged traffickers came from Bulgaria, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

Read more about the case here. 

InfoMigrants with afp, APE


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