Turkish police detained a person suspected of organizing a smuggling operation on Monday that left 27 refugees dead. At least 27 foreign nationals, including 11 children, died early on Monday after a boat carrying refugees sank in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey's western province of Balıkesir.
The Turkish Coast Guard rescued three survivors, while another was rescued by a fishing boat following the incident near the Edremit district, which is only a few kilometers from the Greek island of Lesbos. The suspect arrested Tuesday was among the survivors, local police said, adding that the hunt was on for three other suspects. Turkey's Aegean provinces of Çanakkale, Balıkesir, İzmir, Muğla and Aydın, are prime spots for refugees leaving for the EU, with many Greek islands lying within sight of the Turkish coast.
Over the past year, hundreds of thousands have made short but perilous journeys, in a bid to reach northern and western Europe in hope of a better life. Of the more than 1.1 million refugees who arrived in the EU last year, more than 850,000 arrived by sea to Greece from Turkey, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Over the course of the year, 805 people died in the Aegean. During the first six weeks of 2016, more than 76,000 people arrived by sea on European coasts, according to the IOM. The daily average of nearly 2,000 arrivals is nearly 10 times the daily average a year ago.