Turkey rescues at least 68 migrants stranded in Aegean Sea

Turkey rescues at least 68 migrants stranded in Aegean Sea

Turkey rescues at least 68 migrants stranded in Aegean Sea

The Turkish Coast Guard on Dec. 14 rescued at least 68 migrants stranded on a rocky islet in the Aegean Sea.

The migrants, including women and children, were attempting to reach Greek islands illegally when the rubber dinghy carrying them got stuck at an islet near the Dikili district of İzmir, said a statement from the Turkish Coast Guard.

The coast guard teams rescued the migrants upon receiving an emergency call at 13:12 local time (10:12 GMT).

The teams airlifted five children, while the others were transferred to safety in boats with the assistance of fisherman in the area. The migrants were then given food supplies.

The rescue operation needed daylight before it could begin due to the rocky terrain and rough sea conditions, the Associated Press reported, citing the coast guard.

Two helicopters and a boat were dispatched for the dramatic operation, Turkey’s tate-run Anadolu Agency reported.

No immediate information was released concerning the nationalities of the rescued migrants, who included 15 children.

Turkey has been a main route for refugees trying to cross into Europe, especially since the beginning of the civil war in Syria.

In recent years, hundreds of thousands of people have made the short but perilous journey across the Aegean to reach Northern and Western Europe.

Many refugees have died at sea as a number of boats carrying them sank. The Turkish Coast Guard has rescued thousands.

In March 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a deal aiming to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by enacting stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the living conditions of the three million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Since then, the number of refugees detained crossing the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece fell by 85 percent, according to the Turkish Coast Guard.

Statistics show that the total number of Syrian migrants registered with biometric IDs reached 3,208,131 as of Sept. 28.

According to statistics, Istanbul was the most popular destination, with 511,308 Syrians recorded there. The southeastern province of Şanlıurfa came second with 445,584.