Security officials confirmed yesterday that at least 519 undocumented migrants are being held in the southern and northwestern provinces of Turkey.
A total of 13 migrants – all of them Syrian nationals – were caught in the border district of Yayladağı, Hatay after they illegally crossed into Turkey from Syria, said an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
The migrants, who are nationals of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Libya and Palestine, were later were later sent to an immigration office in the city for deportation.
Separately, in northwestern Edirne province, a total of 506 illegal migrants are being held after they were captured while they were attempting to illegally cross into Greece, the government official said.
Meanwhile, military sources said 64 migrants were also caught while trying to illegally cross into Greece from Turkey, while five others were being held at the Syrian border for trying to illegally cross into Syria.
Turkey has been a main route for refugees trying to cross into Europe since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal in March 2016 to discourage irregular migration via the Aegean Sea, taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of more than 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The deal included an aid package of 6 billion euros to help Ankara assist the millions of refugees in the country. Ankara says it has spent more than 20 billion euros from its own resources to help and shelter refugees since the Syrian civil war began.