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Refugees using sea routes to reach Europe at 2-year low

ANADOLU AGENCY
İZMİR
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Refugees using sea routes to reach Europe at 2-year low

The number of refugees trying to reach the Greek islands from Turkey via the Aegean and Mediterranean seas have dropped by 60 percent in 2016 when compared to 2015, according to recently released Turkish Coast Guard Command data.

The number of refugees stopped in Aegean and Mediterranean waters by the Turkish Coast Guard was 37,130 in 2016 as opposed to 91,611 in 2015.

Thousands of people have made the short but dangerous attempt to cross the Aegean in a bid to reach Greece, before going on to northern and western Europe.

Migration to Europe via sea routes dropped to the lowest level in the past two years after the Turkish Coast Guard Command and security forces increased their control following a Turkey-EU refugee deal.

According to latest figures, the number of refugees trying to cross to Greece took a huge 90 percent dip after the Turkey-EU agreement was signed in March 2016.

According to the data, in February last year, Turkish Coast Guard staff held 8,847 refugees, the highest number in 2016.

In June, 538 refugees were held from crossing into the Greek islands, making it the lowest period in the last two years.

The number of deaths in the Aegean Sea also dropped due to tight security measures. In 2016, a total of 192 refugees died in the Aegean Sea, dropping from 279 in 2015.

The number of the deaths also dropped 31 percent, the data said.

While 173 refugees died between February and March 2016, this figure dropped to 19 after the Turkey-EU agreement.

According to the U.N., a total of 5,000 people died in 2016 in the Mediterranean Sea.

Over 351,000 migrants or refugees have crossed into Greece and Italy since the beginning of 2016 compared with 883,393 by this time in 2015, according to information released on Tuesday by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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