At least 38,250 irregular migrants held in the metropolis Istanbul so far this year have been handed to the local migration office, authorities said Tuesday.
The Istanbul Governor's Office said in a statement that 453 irregular migrants, including 159 Afghans, were held in Istanbul on Monday.
Irregular migrants were handed to the local migration office for deportation procedures, it added.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum-seekers who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Turkey, which already hosts 4 million refugees – more than any country in the world – is taking new security measures within and on its borders to prevent a fresh influx of migrants.
Concerns have risen over a possible spike in migrants from Afghanistan due to the United States' pullout from that country after two decades.
Separately, a total of 55 irregular migrants were held in the Menteşe district of Muğla province.
Security forces nabbed the irregular migrants, including Iraqi and Syrian nationals, who were preparing to go abroad illegally.
Also, seven irregular migrants were caught in Kocaeli province in the country's northwest, the local police department said in a statement.
Security forces rescued at least 12 irregular migrants in Turkey's northwestern province of Çanakkale.
Turkey's Coast Guard Command detected the presence of a group of irregular migrants on a rubber boat off the coast of Çanakkale’s Ayvacık district.
The irregular migrants, who had been pushed back to Turkish territorial waters by Greek elements, were rescued and taken ashore.
After routine procedures, the migrants were transferred to the local immigration office.
Turkey's five Aegean provinces – Çanakkale, Balıkesir, Izmir, Muğla and Aydın – are prime spots for refugees leaving Turkey for the European Union, with Greek islands lying within sight of the Turkish coast.
In recent years, hundreds of thousands have made short but perilous journeys across the Aegean Sea in a bid to reach northern and western Europe in search of a better life.
Hundreds of people have died at sea as many boats carrying refugees sank or capsized. The Turkish Coast Guard Command has rescued thousands of others.
Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for migrants aiming to cross into Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start new lives. Turkey has accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks and summary deportations without migrants being given access to asylum procedures, which is a violation of international law. It also accuses the EU of turning a blind eye to this blatant abuse of human rights.
Between January 2020 and March 2021, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) documented around 300 reported incidents of illegal expulsions around the Aegean islands and Greece's northeastern land border with Turkey. In May, several migrant support groups, including the Greek Helsinki Monitor, filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice against Frontex, the EU's border monitoring agency.
Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which dictate that people should not be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or membership in a social or political group.
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