Turkish authorities over the weekend held a total of 189 irregular migrants across the country, security sources said Saturday.
In Turkey's northwestern Edirne province, the security forces held seven irregular migrants after stopping a suspicious vehicle in the Havsa district. In another operation in the same province, police also stopped another vehicle carrying two Afghan migrants.
Separately, the gendarmerie forces rounded up 109 irregular migrants in the Aegean province of İzmir. The migrants, including women and children, were mainly from the Central African Republic and Congo.
The Turkish Coast Guard rounded up 23 irregular migrants, including women and children, in the Aegean Sea off İzmir while trying to cross the sea by boat. The migrants are from Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, Eritrea and Cameroon.
Meanwhile, the coast guard officers also detained 48 irregular migrants in the Aegean Sea off Kuşadası district in Aydın. A total of seven people were arrested on human trafficking charges. All of the migrants were referred to the provincial migration directorates.
Turkey has been the main route for irregular migrants trying to cross to Europe, especially since 2011 when the Syrian civil war began. Some 265,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018 as of Oct. 15, according to the Interior Ministry. Turkey has been taking measures to ensure blocking the irregular movements and also to avoid a humanitarian crisis, particularly when the migrants attempt to cross the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.
Last week, the International Organization for Migration announced that a total of 2,241 illegal immigrants have died in the Mediterranean Sea as of Dec. 21 since the beginning of the year. The number of deaths on the route to Europe was 3,319 in 2017, 5,096 in 2016 and 3,771 in 2015.
The Interior Ministry also said on Saturday that at least 500 irregular migrants were captured last week. The Turkish Coast Guard rounded up 536 irregular migrants in 12 interventions, including those on migratory routes, on Dec. 21-28, the ministry announced on its website.
All the irregular migrants were held in western Turkey since they were trying to cross to Greece. The ministry gave no details on their nationalities. In addition, 12 human smugglers were arrested by Turkish gendarmes and police.