Number of migrants held trying to reach Europe from Turkey using illegal routes has increased by 60 percent this year
The number of migrants held trying to reach Europe from Turkey using illegal routes has increased by 60 percent this year, according to data from the Coast Guard Command.
A total of 14,470 migrants were held in the first seven months of this year, especially in the Aegean Sea, as well as in Turkey’s southern Mediterranean Sea and the northern Black Sea, the data revealed.
This figure was 9,152 during the same period in 2017.
According to the data, most migrants prefer to use the illegal routes in Aegean Sea to cross into Europe as a number of Greek islands are located close to Turkish coasts.
A total of 13,336 irregular migrants used the Aegean Sea to cross into Greece this year, the data revealed.
Among the irregular migrants intercepted by Turkey so far this year, 1,640 were held in January, 1,363 in February, 1,849 in March, 2,534 in April, 3,398 in May, 1,925 in June, and 1761 in first 29 days of July.
Coast Guard data shows 54 irregular migrants lost their lives this year while the figure was 20 during the same period in 2017.
In March 2016, the EU and Turkey reached an agreement to stop irregular migration through the Aegean Sea, and improve the conditions of more than 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Turkey hosts some 3.5 million Syrians — more than any other country in the world