Over 55,000 migrants intercepted by Turkish Coast Guard in 2019

Turkey has reinforced its efforts to block irregular migrants from reaching Greece. In 2019, the flow of irregular migrants attempting to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece has continued to grow, causing the Turkish Coast Guard to increase patrols. Since January, 55,806 migrants have been intercepted by Turkish authorities in the sea.

This year, coast guard troops arrested 76 people smugglers along the route and intervened in 1,615 cases of migrants attempting to irregularly cross the Aegean Sea, according to reports released by the Turkish Coast Guard Command. The Aegean Sea continues to be one of the deadliest irregular crossings.

Since a 2015 deal between the European Union (EU) and Turkey, the country has also increased their military efforts to block migrants from reaching Europe by land, especially along the border with Bulgaria.

Only last week, over 3,700 irregular migrants have been stopped across Turkey, 1,475 of them in the province of Edirne, near the Turkish borders with Greece and Bulgaria. The other 1,525 were intercepted in Muğla, Çanakkale, Izmir, Balıkesir, Mersin and Aydın provinces.

In early December, a group of at least 247 irregular migrants were caught during a patrol by the coast guard in north-western Turkey. The group was made up mostly of Afghan, Syrian and Iraqi citizens who were taken to provincial refugee centres.

So far in 2019, at least 337,000 migrants have been arrested while attempting to reach Europe, compared to 268,000 in the entirety of 2018.

Greece has become a popular gateway to Europe for migrants, but accommodation in poor conditions and allegations of beatings and immediate forced returns to Turkey have become serious humanitarian concerns.

TMP – 10/12/2019

Photo credit: deepspace / Shutterstock.com

Photo caption: AEGEAN SEA, TURKEY – OCTOBER 18, 2019:. Refugees and Migrants aboard dinghies reach the Greek Island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey.