Turkey in struggle to capture growing number of Syrian illegal immigrants
ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
Syrian refugees onboard an overcrowded dinghy jump onto a beach on the Greek island of Kos, after crossing a part of the Aegean sea from Turkey, August 9, 2015.Turkey is facing the growing issue of illegal immigrants fleeing war-torn Syria and trying to reach Europe.
The country’s security forces are engaged in intense efforts over Syrians who use illegal methods to reach European countries via Turkey, according to figures obtained by the state-run Anadolu Agency from the General Staff.
Since May, more than 50,000 immigrants who illegally crossed the borders or were in an illegal situation have been caught in Turkey, of whom 30,000 were Syrian refugees.
Some 1,500 people were taken into custody after trying illegally to cross into Turkey via the borders of Iraq and Iran, and legal measures were taken against around 4,000 people who tried to reach Syria, Greece and Bulgaria through Turkey.
Furthermore, in the same period, inside Turkey, gendarmerie forces and coastguard units arrested around 20,000 people in illegal situations. Along with them smuggled cigarettes, drugs, sexual enhancement pills, alcohol, mobile phones, fuel oil, live animals, various food products, clothing and motor vehicles were also seized.
The drama of illegal immigrants risking their lives in the Mediterranean while trying to reach European countries has been worsened by the war in Syria, as human traffickers exploit Syrians’ dreams of finding a passage to Europe that often leads only to death.
Some 15,000 illegal immigrants were caught in Turkey’s territorial waters by Turkish security forces last year. It is estimated that this figure will rise to 50,000 people this year.
The official number of Syrian refugees in Turkey is approaching two million, with nearly 300,000 residing in immigration camps. Lebanon, with a population of just four million, currently hosts one-and-a-half million refugees. Across all European Union member countries only 150,000 Syrians are hosted.