A migrant at the Spanish enclave of Ceuta
A migrant at the Spanish enclave of Ceuta

More than 150 migrants were rescued by the Romanian coast guard from a ship in distress in the Black Sea on Wednesday. More and more migrants are crossing the Black Sea from Turkey to get to Romania. The traffic on the route from Morocco to Spain is also increasing.

The authorities said that of the 157 people rescued, 56 were children, mainly from Iraq and Iran. On Tuesday night, weather conditions improved off Romania’s eastern coast from Tuesday to Wednesday.

"The sea had been very agitated, with waves of up three meters (9.8 feet). These people were in a very dangerous situation and risked either drowning or seeing their boat sink," Cristian Cicu, a spokesman for the Constanta coastguard, told AFP about the event.

This isn’t the first incident. Last weekend, 217 migrants on the Black Sea were intercepted in two boats on the suspicion they were trying to illegally enter Romanian territory. Krzystof Borowski, a spokesman for the EU agency Frontex, told AP that the "smugglers are testing this route with the Black Sea" and this was an "attempt to revive the route."

The usual route to Romania is by land via Bulgaria and in the first seven months of the year around 2,800 arrived this way - five times more than the same period in 2016. 

Spain via Morocco

The Black Sea is not the only new route that the migrants are taking to enter Europe. Migrants are now choosing to go through Morocco to Spain instead of from Libya to Italy. On Monday, the head of the European Union border agency Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, claimed that there were over 15,000 arrivals in Spain from Morocco and the Maghreb so far this year.

Arrivals from Libya to Europe through the central Mediterranean have dropped as many migrants are realizing that Libya is dangerous. But on the other hand, arrival figures to Spain via Morocco "have multiplied by 2.5 this year."

Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said on Tuesday that there has been a jump in attempts to break through the double border fences in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, which borders Morocco. Zoido mentioned that around 9,000 people have tried to enter Ceuta this year. There is a double fence in Ceuta, which is from three to six meters high and "doesn’t fulfill the purpose for which it was built," Zoido said.  

The increasing popularity of these routes highlights the inefficiency of EU policy in dealing with the migrant crisis, Eugenio Ambrosi, director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) argues. "Simply stopping the flow is A, not an answer and B, not really working in general," he said.

130,000 migrants have reached Europe via the Mediterranean this year, making it the most popular route.

Wesley Dockery (AFP, AP, dpa)