Police detain at least 241 undocumented migrants across Turkey
ISTANBUL / HATAY
Police have recently apprehended at least 241 undocumented migrants across Turkey, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Dec. 20, citing security sources.
Some 115 Pakistani nationals were detained in the Çatalca district of Istanbul after a tip off from the security forces, which said the group was planning to enter Greece via the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Police stopped four minibuses at different times, detaining undocumented migrants who reportedly entered Turkey via Iran, and had spent approximately a month in Istanbul’s central Aksaray district, the source added.
Six Turkish nationals and a 17-year-old Pakistani have been arrested over people-smuggling charges and for extracting $1,500 from each migrant.
An undisclosed court subsequently remanded the suspects in custody, the source added.
In Istanbul’s Silivri district, 34 Syrian nationals, mainly women and children, were also held, the source said.
One suspect was arrested, the source added.
In the western province of İzmir, the coast guard detained 51 foreign nationals after reportedly stopping an inflatable boat carrying undocumented migrants in the Çeşme district.
Syrians, Malians, Angolans and Central Africans were among those attempting to illegally cross into Greece through Turkey, the agency reported.
Meanwhile, in Turkey’s northwestern province of Edirne, police detained at least 24 foreigners from Morocco, Algeria, Syria, Afghanistan, and Palestine, who were trying to go abroad via illegal channels, the source said
Earlier on Dec. 20, in Turkey’s southern province of Hatay, 17 undocumented migrants were held, the agency reported, citing the security source.
The migrants were found after they crossed into Hatay’s Yayladağı district from Syria. All the migrants were Syrian nationals, the source added.
Turkey and the European Union signed a deal in March 2016 to curb the flow of migrants to Greek islands on the Aegean Sea.
Turkey has been the main route for migrants trying to cross into Europe, especially since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.
In recent years, hundreds of thousands have made short but perilous journeys across the Aegean in a bid to reach northern and western Europe. Hundreds of people have died at sea as a number of boats carrying refugees sank or capsized, while the Turkish Coast Guard has rescued thousands of others.
Five of Turkey’s Aegean provinces – Çanakkale, Balıkesir, İzmir, Muğla and Aydın – are prime spots for refugees attempting to leave Turkey for the EU, as Greek islands lie within sight of the Turkish coast.