Over 20,000 migrants captured trying to cross Aegean in 2018: Minister

Over 20,000 migrants captured trying to cross Aegean in 2018: Minister

Rifat Başaran – ANKARA
Over 20,000 migrants captured trying to cross Aegean in 2018: Minister

Over 20,000 migrants were captured by Turkish security forces in 2018 while trying to illegally cross to Greece via the Aegean Sea, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has said.

In response to a parliamentary question submitted by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) group deputy chair Özgür Özel, Soylu said that during the period of Jan. 1- Oct. 11, 2018, a total of 20,755 “illegal migrants” were captured, while for the year of 2017 this figure was 21,937.

The highest number of migrants who crossed the Aegean Sea illegally was in 2015, with a total of 91,611, while in 2016 this figure decreased to 37,130, Soylu said in his written response.

Soylu also said that in 2018, some 82 migrants lost their lives in this perilous journey while trying to cross to Greece.

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This death figure was 279 in 2015, 192 in 2016, and 56 in 2017, the minister stressed.

Regarding human traffickers, Soylu expressed that in 2018 a total of 4,330 human smugglers were captured.

According to the figures Soylu has provided, some 198,247 irregular migrants illegally entered Turkey in 2018, this being the highest figure since 2015. The majority of captured migrants were Syrians, Afghans and Pakistanis, respectively, the minister said.

During the period of Jan. 1 - Oct. 11, 2018, some 266 Turkish citizens were captured while trying to illegally cross to Greece via the Aegean and Meriç (Evros) River and 17 lost their lives during the attempt.

When asked about the locations used for illegal crossings, the minister said the Aegean provinces of İzmir, Aydın, and Muğla and the northwestern provinces of Çanakkale and Balıkesir were widely used as departure points.

There are currently 19 repatriation centers within the body of the Interior Ministry, which in total have a capacity of 12,276 people, Soylu said, adding that more were underway.

Migrants, Aegean Sea, captured, 2018