Migrant carrying boat busted in Turkey en route to Romania

Migrant carrying boat busted in Turkey en route to Romania

Some 116 illegal migrants, including 46 children, were captured on a boat off the Kefken port in the northwestern province of Kocaeli yesterday while reportedly trying to reach Romania via Turkey.

While some of the captured migrants were reported to be Syrians who have Turkish residency permits, there are also others from six different countries, including Iran and Pakistan, Doğan news agency said.

Coast guard teams caught the migrants acting on a tipoff that said there were foreigners departing in a boat from the Black Sea village of Kerpe, which is located 50 kilometers from the Kocaeli provincial center.

After being captured at sea by operation teams, the migrants were taken away to the Foreigners’ Department of Kocaeli, but no further details regarding their nationality were disclosed.

The captured immigrants, who were believed to be headed to Romania before traveling onward to other parts of Europe, reportedly paid $5,000 a head to anonymous people for the transportation.

The police have launched an operation to find and apprehend those responsible for the smuggling, increasing security measures in the region.

Turkey currently hosts over 500,000 Syrians who have fled the civil war in their country and are staying in camps just across the border, and some countries are concerned that larger numbers of Syrians could try to reach Europe illegally. 

Migrants from Asia and Africa have long sought to reach Europe by passing through Turkey, because of the country’s location at the crossroads between Europe, the Caucasus and the Middle East, as well as its long coastlines that encourage migrants to attempt their journey by sea. 

Each year, thousands try to sail to Greek islands from Turkish soil in rickety boats, with Greek government figures showing that more than 100 migrants cross the country’s border with Turkey every day.

As one of the steps aimed at finding a remedy to the issue given the dangers associated with such journeys, Turkey and the European Union initiated a readmission agreement in 2011.

The deal calls for the repatriation of illegal migrants in Europe to Turkey in response to key steps outlined by the EU for a visa-free agreement with Ankara.

The safety of refugees and how to handle their arrivals became the subject of a heated debate after more than 194 people died when a boat carrying migrants sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa last week.