2,933 migrants detained in four days in Turkey’s west

2,933 migrants detained in four days in Turkey’s west

ÇANAKKALE – Doğan News Agency
2,933 migrants detained in four days in Turkey’s west

AA Photo

Nearly 3,000 migrants and suspected human traffickers have been detained in the northwestern province of Çanakkale over the past four days, in operations conducted to stop migrants from crossing over to Greek islands through Turkey.

Çanakkale Gendarmerie Command forces have captured at least 2,933 migrants in the province’s Ayvacık district since Dec. 1, in operations it says were launched to prevent both migrant deaths and illegal crossings into Lesbos, a Greek island across from the coast of Ayvacık.

In addition, 35 people have been detained on suspicion of human trafficking.

The operations since Dec. 1 have been conducted at seven separate sites along the 50-kilometer shoreline in Ayvacık by around 300 gendarmerie officers. 

Migrants have reportedly been camping on olive-growing land in the villages of Behramkale and Gülpınar, drawing an angry reaction from local residents.

In 1,038 separate operations since the beginning of the year, 47,622 migrants have been captured on the shores of Çanakkale.

Geographically located between war-torn Syria and Iraq in the southeast and European Union member states of Bulgaria and Greece in the northwest, Turkey has become a key transit point for refugees looking to cross into the EU to flee violence in Iraq and Syria as well as to find a higher standard of living.

However, the wave of migration across the Aegean Sea often results in injury or death due to capsizing migrant-carrying boats or abuse of migrants by human traffickers.

The number of migrants saved after making failed attempts to cross via sea from Turkey into Europe has increased by over 500 percent in 2015 compared to last year.

In 2014, the number of migrants rescued by Turkey’s coast guard and local institutions was 14,961, in 574 separate incidents, according to Prime Ministry figures. 

So far this year, the number is 79,489 migrants in 2,133 incidents. In addition, more than 200 smuggling gangs have been targeted in security operations launched by the authorities over the last two years. 

Turkey, the main launching pad for migrants fleeing to Europe in search of better lives, is under pressure to impose stricter controls on human smuggling into the EU.