Over 90,000 irregular migrants arrested this year in north-western Turkey

At least 90,000 irregular migrants were arrested by security forces in Edirne, Turkey, during the first nine months of 2019, according to the Turkish news agency, Anadolu Agency. The north-western province of Edirne shares a border with Bulgaria to the north and Greece to the west.

The number of migrants captured while attempting to cross into Europe via Edirne has risen from almost 30,000 in 2016 to almost 75,000 in 2018. The number is estimated to increase to 110,000 by the end of 2019.

This route to Europe is popular amongst irregular migrants. It is considered to be safer than the Aegean Sea route, which remains one of the deadliest crossings

Between July and September 2019, the Turkish Coast Guard apprehended around 25,500 people attempting to cross the Aegean Sea, compared to just 8,600 in the previous three months. Though an increase in attempted Aegean Sea crossings is normal during summer months, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of arrivals to the Greek islands this year.

Since a 2016 deal was brokered between the EU and Turkey to stop irregular migrants from reaching Europe, summer arrivals at the Greek islands have ranged from 2,000 to 5,000 per month. This September, over 10,000 migrants arrived. Around 40 per cent of recent arrivals are Afghans.   

Though this number is much lower than the total 850,000 migrants who crossed the Aegean Sea in 2015, the recent rise in crossings may have to do with a lack of opportunities  for Afghans in Turkey. 

As insecurity in Afghanistan continues, Afghan migrants make up 44 per cent of irregular migrants apprehended in Turkey. Turkey has also increased Afghan deportations over the past two years, made asylum procedures more difficult and restricted legal avenues.

“It’s not surprising that people see that they no longer have a future in Turkey,” said Izza Leghtas, independent migration consultant.

TMP – 11/11/2019

Photo credit: Darkdiamond67/ Shutterstock.com

Photo caption: Istanbul, Turkey April 03, 2019: Guard patrol boat rushing to the rescue