Turkish security forces rescued or detained some 352 irregular migrants over a 24-hour period Monday and Tuesday in a number of provinces in Turkey, as the country continues to be a key transit point for migrants fleeing from countries conflicted and aiming to enter Europe to start a new life.
According to a statement, the security units were informed that a large group of foreign nationals were in a social establishment located on the highway.
The 101 migrants, who had entered Turkey at different times, were detained and two suspected human traffickers were arrested.
In Belen district, in the south of Hatay province, at least 28 migrants, all of Syrian nationality and who entered the country illegally, have been detained.
Acting on a tip, security teams stopped three vehicles and identified the migrants, according to local security sources.
As the migrants were sent to the local migration office, legal action was taken against the three Syrian drivers.
In addition, a Turkish coastguard team was dispatched off the coast of Ayvacık, in the north-west of Çanakkale province, to rescue 25 asylum seekers.
Asylum seekers were trying to reach Europe by sailboat, according to a statement from the Coast Guard Command.
43 other asylum seekers, who were pushed back by the Greek coast guard into Turkish territorial waters of the Aegean Sea, were also rescued in Çanakkale.
Four suspects were arrested for alleged human trafficking while asylum seekers were sent to the local migration office.
Another group of 25 asylum seekers were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard, who were carrying out a routine patrol off Bodrum, in Muğla province.
In addition, three asylum seekers who were pushed back by the Greek coast guard in Turkish territorial waters reached Kuşadası in the western province of Aydin by swimming after a lifeboat failed to take them away.
A coast guard team learned that the asylum seekers – all Syrian nationals – were stranded on the shore without access to vehicles. The three were then sent to the local migration office.
Meanwhile, acting on a tip, the Turkish Coast Guard rescued 10 asylum seekers from an inflatable boat off the coast of Çeşme in western Izmir province, said a source, who asked not to not be named due to media restrictions.
Another coastguard team was dispatched off Seferihisar in Izmir province after learning that 41 asylum seekers were stranded in a rubber dinghy. They were then taken to the provincial migration office.
On Tuesday, Turkish coastal units also rescued 76 other irregular migrants pushed back by Greece to Turkish Aegean territorial waters in the western provinces of Izmır and Aydın.
According to the statement made by the Coast Guard Command, a Coast Guard boat, which was directed to the area after learning that there were migrants in an inflatable boat off the coast of Dikili, rescued 10 migrants in an inflatable boat who were pushed back into Turkish territorial waters by the Greek authorities.
Again, 20 other asylum seekers, who were left in Turkish territorial waters by Greek authorities, were rescued in two life rafts off the coast of Dikili.
After receiving the information that there was a group of migrants in rubber dinghies off the coast of Kuşadası, Aydın, the coast guard boats were directed to the area. The coast guard rescued 46 migrants in rubber dinghies which were pushed back into Turkish territorial waters.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers wishing to enter Europe to start a new life, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Turkey and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of turning away asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of migrants vulnerable, especially women and children.
Refoulements are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements which stipulate that people must not be expelled or returned to a country where their life or safety could be in danger because of their race, religion, nationality or affiliation. a social or political group.
Turkey already hosts nearly 4 million Syrian migrants, more than any other country in the world. Officials say the country cannot handle another wave of refugees.
In March 2016, the EU and Turkey reached an agreement to end irregular migration via the Aegean Sea and improve conditions for more than 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The deal succeeded in stemming the flow of migrants and refugees, but the EU’s reluctance to welcome refugees from Turkey and bureaucratic obstacles to transferring funds pledged for refugees drew sharp criticism from politicians. Turkish.
Ankara has criticized the EU for failing to keep its promise to provide funding to migrants and refugees in Turkey under the pact while allocating billions of euros to Greece.
Five years later, the pact fails as Turkey grapples with a growing number of migrants, while the EU is more divided than ever over its asylum policy.
More recently, the EU agreed to additional funding of € 3 billion ($ 3.6 billion) for migrants in Turkey.
In response, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that the decisions taken regarding Turkey at the EU summit in Brussels fall far short of the expected and necessary measures.
“The proposed new financial aid package is aimed at Syrian refugees, not Turkey, and is essentially a measure to be taken to ensure EU peace and security. Reducing cooperation on migration to a mere financial dimension is a serious mistake. Aiming for close cooperation in this area would be beneficial for everyone, ”he said.