About 270,000 irregular migrants held in Turkey in 2019

About 270,000 irregular migrants have been held in Turkey between 1 January and 12 September 2019, said the Migration Management Directorate General in Turkey.

Of those, Afghans made up the largest nationality, with over 117,000 held. Pakistanis were the second largest nationality, with over 43,000 held by Turkish authorities.

This sets a new all-time high in Turkey for the number of irregular migrants held, surpassing last year’s total of 268,000.

Most attempts at irregular migration are said to take place in the northwestern border province of Edirne, where nearly 74,000 irregular migrants were detained. In the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece, nearly 32,000 irregular migrants were held in over 920 operations. In those operations, 44 smugglers were arrested, and 28 irregular migrants died at sea.

While the number of irregular migrants held in Turkey rises, so is the number of arrivals in Greece. This year, nearly 42,000 irregular migrants have arrived, and that figure continues to rise. The number of arrivals over the summer is the largest surge in Greece since the EU-Turkey deal, signed in 2016.

The largest number of irregular migrant arrivals by sea are from Afghanistan. Smugglers are said to be stealing fishing boats and luxury yachts to smuggler migrants from Turkey to Greece.

Greece is also struggling to cope with the rising number of irregular migrants, with severely overcrowded migrant centres. On 27 September 2019, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called for additional EU aid to Turkey to manage migrant flows.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations at the UN General Assembly, he said, “It’s very clear to me that we need a new arrangement. Turkey needs to make commitments to maintain this arrangement and the European Union needs to acknowledge that Turkey is hosting millions of refugees and needs to provide additional financial support to Turkey going beyond 2019.”

TMP – 30/09/2019

Photo credit: Darkdiamond67 / Shutterstock

Photo caption: Patrol boat in Turkish waters