135 irregular migrants held in Istanbul
A total of 135 irregular migrants were held in Turkey’s largest metropolis Istanbul, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Feb. 12.
This came as police conducted an operation as part of security efforts against irregular migration and human smuggling, Anadolu Agency cited anonymous sources as saying.
The migrants -- nationals of Bangladesh and Pakistan -- were held in the Fatih district of Istanbul.
They were later transferred to provincial migration offices for legal processing.
In the meantime, some 527 irregular migrants were held in northwestern Turkey, according to Anadolu Agency.
The migrants -- who attempted to cross to Europe illegally -- were held by the local gendarmerie forces in the İpsala, Meriç, Uzunköprü, and Enez districts of Edirne, bordering Greece and Bulgaria, Anadolu Agency cited security sources as saying.
The irregular migrants that included Eritrean, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Moroccan, Algerian, Syrian and Afghan nationals were later referred to provincial migration directorate.
Turkey has been the main route for refugees trying to cross to Europe, especially since the beginning of civil war in Syria.
In 2019, Turkish authorities held a record of 454,662 irregular migrants across the country, with about 60,000 caught while traversing the Mediterranean Sea.
As many as 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, 175,000 each in 2017 and 2016, and 146,000 in 2015.
About 28,000 human traffickers have also been rounded up by authorities over the past five years.