106 migrants saved off western Turkey
AFP photoTurkish security forces have rescued 106 migrants and refugees caught in a storm in two boats in the Aegean Sea off the southwestern province of Muğla and Antalya, the state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
Police said they rescued 55 migrants as they were attempting to reach the Greek island of Kos from Muğla’s Bodrum district on the night of Feb. 15.
Witnesses said the storm blew the group’s nine-meter plastic dinghy ashore in Bodrum shortly after the attempted crossing.
The 55, including children, were reportedly from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. Many were provided initial treatment by local residents at local coffee houses and nearby businesses. Syrian nationals were sent to facilities operated by the Directorate General of Migration Management, while Pakistani and Afghan nationals were sent to a police station for deportation. Meanwhile, the Turkish Coast Guard caught a total of 51 Syrian migrants in the Kaş district of the Mediterranean province of Antalya bound for the Greek island of Kastellorizo in an inflatable boat on Feb. 16.
The boat was carrying 51 migrants including 12 women and 17 children when it was stopped by the Coast Guard at around 7 a.m, according to a statement released by the Antlaya Governor’s Office. Demand has never been higher for the services of Turkish smuggler Dursun, who has taken migrants to Europe for more than decade, and he told Agence France-Presse nothing short of an army could stamp out his illicit trade.
“Turkey would have to put soldiers on all the beaches,” said the burly Dursun, 30, who has spent three short prison spells in Greece for piloting motor boats full of migrants into Europe. “You have to put thousands of soldiers on the beaches,” he said in the coastal city of İzmir, declining to give his last name. Even though police are more vigilant, Dursun said there was nothing they can do unless a smuggler was caught on a beach with a group of refugees. As he spoke, he pointed out other smugglers walking past. Locals say it has become a popular occupation, to which neighborhood drug dealers have switched.