‘Turkish Coast Guard rescued more than 91,000 migrants in 2015’

‘Turkish Coast Guard rescued more than 91,000 migrants in 2015’

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
‘Turkish Coast Guard rescued more than 91,000 migrants in 2015’

Members of the Turkish Coast Guard patrol on the Aegean sea near Izmir on December 10, 2015. AFP photo

Turkey’s Coast Guard rescued 91,611 would-be migrants who left their countries in a bid to reach northern and Western Europe in 2015, while 279 of them lost their lives in drowning incidents in the Aegean Sea, according to officials.

Every year, thousands of people, mostly from troubled countries, board boats to reach Europe by sea. The Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece has become the most popular route for migrants and human traffickers in recent years due to the short distance between the Turkish shores and the Greek islands.

According to officials, the number of rescued migrants increased seven times in 2015 from just 14,961 in 2014. Since the beginning of this year, the teams have rescued 2,152 migrants as 36 have lost their lives at sea.

Meanwhile, the number of people detained for organizing the illegal journeys across the Aegean also rose to 190 in 2015, up from 106 in 2014.

The trend shows that the numbers of rescued migrants rose during the summer of 2015. In May the teams rescued 4,378 in 127 operations, in June 5,702 in 153 operations and in July 12,586 in 341 operations, while the peak was reached in August as the teams rescued 17,925 migrants in 426 operations.

Between Jan. 15 and 17 of this year, 544 migrants were rescued while four were found dead and one smuggler was captured by authorities.

The migrants who try to make their way to Europe were from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Eritrea, Bangladesh, Somalia, Senegal, Iran, the Central African Republic, Palestine, Mali and Mauritania.