At least 135 illegal migrants were intercepted across Turkey, security sources said on Friday.
In the southern Hatay province bordering Syria, 61 migrants who illegally entered Turkey were held by security forces at the border. Separately, in the northwestern Çanakkale province, 40 Afghan nationals preparing to cross into Greece illegally were held by gendarmerie forces. In the eastern province of Van, bordering Iran, gendarmerie forces rounded up 34 irregular migrants who entered Turkey illegally. All the migrants were referred to provincial migration directorates.
The country has been the main destination for refugees trying to cross into Europe, especially since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Every year, hundreds of thousands of migrants flee civil conflict or economic hardship in their home countries with the hopes of reaching Europe. Some migrants are able to make the dangerous journey over land or sea with the assistance of smugglers who often abandon them especially in sea journeys, after receiving thousands of dollars from each migrant.
Others are stopped by Turkish security forces before crossing the border to Europe. Turkey's seas, particularly the Aegean in the west (where Çanakkale is also located), have recently seen a large influx, with more migrants boarding dinghies to reach Europe. They travel in overcrowded and unsafe boats to reach the Greek islands scattered across the Aegean region and only a few kilometers away from Turkish shores. Deaths are common in these crossings as many migrants, despite paying thousands of dollars to smugglers, are forced to travel in rubber boats crowded far beyond their capacity.