By Ramazan Ercan
Turkish security forces held 26,678 irregular migrants seeking safety in Europe in the seas surrounding the country in 2018, according to security sources.
Sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, said the number of migrants held at sea increased 21.6 percent compared with 2017.
At least 96 migrants died of drowning or hypothermia in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black seas in 2018 -- 65 of whom died on the Aegean sea. This is an increase from the total 56 migrants who died of drowning or hypothermia in 2017.
Additionally, 87 people were arrested for alleged human smuggling.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of migrants flee from civil conflict or economic hardship in their home countries with hopes of reaching Europe.
While some are able to make the perilous journey over land or sea via human smugglers, many are held by security forces before crossing the border to Europe.
There were 25,398 migrants rounded up in the Aegean Sea in 2018, which is 95 percent of the total migrants who came by sea last year.
|Number of irregular migrants by month (2018)|