Sharp rise in number of migrants on Turkey’s west coast
İZMİR – Anadolu Agency
REUTERS photoTurkey’s Coast Guard has reported an eleven-fold year-on-year increase in the number of undocumented migrants discovered in the country’s Aegean region.
Almost 8,500 refugees were found in Turkish Coast Guard operations in February 2016, 11 times more than the same month in 2015, officials told the state-run Anadolu Agency on March 1.
Many of the people were attempting to reach nearby Greece illegally using inflatable boats and fiberglass vessels.
In addition, Turkish authorities reported that 14,000 refugees were found in the first two months of this year alone.
This is in stark contrast to the same two months of 2015 when the Turkish Coast Guard found 5,535 refugees in January and 753 refugees in February.
Thirty-seven people died due to drowning or hypothermia on Turkey’s side of the Aegean Sea in February.
Turkey’s Aegean provinces, namely Çanakkale, Balıkesir, İzmir, Muğla and Aydın, are prime spots for refugees leaving for the EU, with many Greek islands lying within sight of the Turkish coast.
Over the past year, hundreds of thousands of people have made short-but-perilous journeys in a bid to reach Northern and Western Europe in search of a better life.
Of the more than 1.1 million refugees who arrived in the EU last year, more than 850,000 arrived by sea to Greece from Turkey, according to the International Organization for Migration. Over the course of the year, 805 people died in the Aegean.