Turkish coastguard saves dozens of migrants from sinking boat in the Aegean Sea

The Turkish coastguard rescued 55 irregular migrants from a sinking rubber boat in the Aegean Sea on 23 March 2019, according to reports from the Anadolu news agency.

In a statement released by the Turkish coastguard, the boat broke down while on route to Greece due to an engine failure. The migrants were mostly from Syria, with several from Saudi Arabia and the occupied Palestinian territories.

The migrants were set to sail from the coast of Aydin province to the nearest Greek islands, the statement added. Turkish officials transferred the irregular migrants to the provincial migration management office in Aydin for upcoming procedures.

On the previous day, Turkish authorities detained another 623 illegal migrants in northwestern Edirne and eastern Van provinces. This brings the total number of people detained to over 1,600 between 18-22 March 2019. Sources have asked not to be named by the Anadolu news agency due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Gendarmerie forces held 583 migrants in northwestern Edirne province. The province borders Greece and Bulgaria, where most irregular migrants head to when they leave Turkey. An alleged smuggler and 40 irregular migrants were also held by police in eastern Van province. Out of the 40 migrants, 27 are from Afghanistan, while 11 are Pakistanis and two are Iraqis. All of the migrants were referred to the provincial migration directorates.

Despite intensified border control by Turkish authorities, the country remains the most popular route for migrants around the Middle East and Asia seeking to secure a better life in the Europe.

After a deal with the EU in 2016, Turkey has tightened measures to intercept and prevent illegal migrants from crossing into the European countries. According to Turkish interior ministry, law enforcement officers held more than 268,000 irregular migrants across the country alone in 2018.

TMP – 28/03/2019

Photo: LizCoughlan/Shutterstock. A Turkish coastguard vessel on the Bosporus.