Almost 170 irregular migrants held in Turkey

World Faizah Kamal 11-Feb-2020
Migrant boat
ID 137099028 © Vampy1 | Dreamstime.com

On February 10, Turkish security forces held 168 irregular migrants who were attempting to cross into Europe through the country’s Aegean Balikesir province and northwestern Edirne province, the state-run news agency, Anadolu Agency reported.

Sources said Turkish coast guard teams who were patrolling in the Aegean noticed a group of people trying to get to the Greek island of Lesbos. The guards intercepted the boat and held the migrants, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Among the migrants were nationals of Afghanistan, Somalia, Gambia, Togo, and Mali. They were later transferred to provincial migration offices for legal processing.

In Edirne, the provincial gendarmerie forces and police officers conducted operations against those seeking to enter Europe illegally. Among the group of migrants retained were nationals of Palestine, Eritrea, Bangladesh, Morocco, Syria, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They were also later transferred to provincial migration offices.

In addition, the gendarmes found a body and rescued a person showing symptoms of hypothermia from the Martisa River which flows through Greece to Edirne. Rescuers said they were possibly trying to swim to Europe through the river.

Turkey’s Edirne province, which borders Greece and Bulgaria, is a key transit point for irregular migrants aiming to start new lives in Europe, especially those fleeing war and persecution. However, strict monitoring by security forces prevents them to cross to the continent.

In 2019, Turkish authorities held a record of 454,662 irregular migrants across the country, with approximately 60,000 found as they were travelling across the Mediterranean Sea.

As many as 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, 175,000 each in 2017 and 2016, and 146,000 in 2015.

About 28,000 human traffickers have also been rounded up by the authorities in the past five years.