Turkey

2019 saw 123,000+ irregular migrants held in NW Turkey

Turkish security forces held 441,532 irregular migrants since beginning of this year

Hakan Mehmet Sahin   | 25.12.2019
2019 saw 123,000+ irregular migrants held in NW Turkey

EDIRNE, Turkey 

More than 123,000 irregular migrants trying to get to Europe from northwestern Turkey were held since the beginning of 2019, according to data compiled by Anadolu Agency from security sources.

Throughout the country, Turkish security forces held a total of 441,532 irregular migrants, over one-fourth of them -- 123,377 -- in Edirne, which borders Greece and Bulgaria.

The figures continue a steady climb, as nearly 30,000 irregular migrants were held in Edirne in 2016, over 47,000 in 2017, and 74,000 in 2018.

Infantry forces work to stem irregular migration on the Greek and Bulgarian borders, while gendarmerie and police do the same in settled areas.

Some irregular migrants fell into the hands of human smugglers or lost their lives to traffic incidents, freezing to death, or drowning at sea.

One Afghani irregular migrant who fled to Greece and says he was mistreated by Greek forces praised Turkey's hospitality.

“Greece treated us badly. We found a warm house atmosphere in Turkey,” said Kemal Azizi, adding that Turkey provided them with humanitarian aid.

According to local security forces in Edirne and media reports, in recent months Greece has been forcibly sending back irregular migrants to Turkey, in a move that violates the Geneva Convention, European Convention on Human Rights, and the UN Convention Against Torture.

Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants aiming to cross to Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

The migrants were nationals of mostly Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

All of the migrants were either taken to hospitals for medical treatment or transferred to provincial migration offices.

In 2018, 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey, according to the Interior Ministry.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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