Take in refugees: EU – Romania rescues 157 from Black Sea

Migrants prepare to board buses at a refugee centre in the Midia Port, at the Black Sea coast, next to Navodari city on Sept 13. EU member Romania is not part of the bloc’s passport-free Schengen zone and until now has largely avoided the kind of influx of refugees and migrants seen elsewhere on the continent over the last few years. Bucharest fears that the Black Sea could become an alternative route for migrants seeking a new life in Europe as the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean becomes increasingly difficult. (AFP)

BRUSSELS, Sept 13, (Agencies): Eastern European Union states must drop their resistance and accept their share of refugees who arrived in the bloc, officials and diplomats said on Tuesday after a court ruled they must abide by the quota.

The EU’s highest court ruled last week that member states must take in a share of refugees who reach Europe, dismissing complaints by Slovakia and Hungary and reigniting an east-west row that has shaken the bloc’s cohesion. Brussels and other capitals hope member states will respect the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling.

Poland and Hungary are opposed to accepting anybody, their reluctance shared by ex-communist peers Slovakia and the Czech Republic, who have, however, accepted a handful of people under a 2015 EU scheme designed to move 160,000 from Italy and Greece. “All members of the EU must respect the ruling,” Manfred Weber, the head of the of the largest faction in the European Parliament, told a news conference. “The legal fight is over.” “Migration is still a political wound of the political landscape all over Europe … All the reasonable and all the responsible politicians have to go now (towards) a compromise.” EU officials and diplomats say they will make another push this autumn to try to bridge the divisions. EU interior ministers will debate the matter in Brussels on Wednesday.

However, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said he will fight on. Poland, whose nationalist government is now engulfed in spiralling feuds with the bloc, said its migration stance has not changed. The head of the United Nations refugee agency praised the European Union’s refugee quota system for member states on Tuesday and urged Hungary to drop its resistance to taking in its fair share of migrants. “My impression is there is a very clear intention to limit the number of people coming to Hungary to seek protection,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said during a visit to Budapest.

Grandi said the EU’s quota system, introduced at the height of the migrant crisis in Europe in 2015, provided a model for other countries worldwide. Meanwhile, Romania’s coast guard has rescued more than 150 migrants from Iraq and Iran, including 56 children, from a ship in distress on the Black Sea, on what is becoming a favored route for migrants trying to reach Western Europe.

The rusty ship was towed to the Black Sea port of Constanta, some 250 kilometers (150 miles) east of Bucharest, before dawn Wednesday. Revising its initial count, the coast guard said it found more 157 migrants from Iran and Iraq who had “intended to illegally enter our country.” Some migrants received medical treatment.

Authorities initially spotted the ship outside Romanian territorial waters early Tuesday. It sent a distress signal and two coast guard boats were dispatched, but high waves and winds hampered rescue efforts before the ship was eventually towed to port. Migrants are increasingly using the Black Sea route from Turkey to reach Romania. Last weekend, coast guard forces from Romania and Bulgaria intercepted 217 migrants in the Black Sea in two boats who were suspected of trying to illegally enter Romania.

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