Over 600 migrants seized by police in western Turkey

Over 600 migrants seized by police in western Turkey

Over 600 migrants seized by police in western Turkey

AP photo

More than 600 migrants have been seized by security forces in western Turkey over the past two days, as well as at least 12 human traffickers. 

Some 149 migrants were found at a construction site in the resort town of Bodrum on Dec. 9 after police received intelligence that a group of migrants were set to cross over to Greece in a boat, Doğan News Agency reported.

Police officers also detained 11 human traffickers - six Syrians and five Turks - and seized five vehicles used for carrying migrants.

In the Aegean province of İzmir, the Turkish Coast Guard picked up over 150 migrants off the resort district of Çeşme early on Dec. 10, Agence France-Presse reported.

Using radar and backed by a large patrol vessel, the coastguard patrolling off Çeşme captured 152 migrants seeking to travel the short distance to the Greek island of Chios.

Three large dinghies, each packed with dozens of migrants, were reportedly picked up by the coastguards over a four-hour period early on Dec. 10.   

The Turkish Coast Guard vessel Umut used radar to spot the migrants after they set off from beaches on the Çeşme coast bound for Greece.

When a migrant dinghy was identified, speedboats were sent from the Umut to apprehend it and tow it back.

They were then taken back to the Turkish shore aboard smaller boats and handed over to the Turkish gendarmerie.

Meanwhile, in the Aegean province of Aydın, 277 migrants seeking to illegally cross over to Greece were captured in Aydın’s Didim district on Dec. 10, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The Aydın Governor’s Office said in a written statement that 277 foreign nationals preparing to illegally cross over to the Greek islands were captured in Didim’s Akköy and Yalıköy neighborhoods. The migrants captured were reportedly of Syrian, Congolose and Afghan origin.

In addition, 58 migrants were captured and one human trafficking suspect was detained in the northwestern province of Çanakkale, Anadolu Agency reported.

Upon notification that a group of foreign migrants and a human trafficker were staying at an apartment in Çanakkale’s Ayvacık district ahead of an attempt to cross to a Greek island, police raided a home in the Fatih neighborhood early Dec. 11, capturing 16 migrants and detaining a human trafficker. 

In another raid, in the nearby village of Tuzla, 42 migrants of Syrian and Afghan origin were seized by police on the coast on Dec. 11.

Geographically located between war-torn Syria and Iraq in the southeast and the EU member states of Bulgaria and Greece in the northwest, Turkey has become a transition point for migrants looking to illegally cross into the EU, fleeing the violence in Iraq and Syria and seeking a higher standard of living.

The wave of migration across the Aegean Sea has often resulted in injuries and deaths due to either the capsizing of 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.