Refugees abandoned by smugglers at sea rescued

Published 19.02.2016 00:00
Updated 19.02.2016 03:45

The Coast Guard rescued 158 migrants en route to the Greek island of Lesbos after smugglers helping them to cross abandoned the group at sea.

The group, which included women and children from Syria and Afghanistan, departed Ayvalık, a northwestern Turkish town on the shore of the Aegean Sea yesterday, in the company of smugglers. Midway through their journey, smugglers removed the battery of the boat and left by boarding a rubber boat that approached them. The Coast Guard noticed the stranded group and towed them to the coast, as well as delivered food to the migrants, who were left starving for hours.

Smugglers often avoid accompanying migrants heading to Greece as they evade authorities and sometimes abandon migrants before they reach their final destination.

In another case on Turkey's southwestern coast, 20 migrants survived after their boat started sinking off the coast of Bodrum. Rescued migrants claimed they paid 3,000 euros per person to smugglers, but they supplied them with a faulty boat that started taking water as soon as they left the shore. They managed to wade to the shore, as the spot where the boat sank was shallow.

Human smuggling thrives in Turkey, a transit route for migrants from Middle Eastern and Asian countries due to its location between Europe and Asia. The war in its southern neighbor Syria has made Turkey a favorite destination for migrants who use it as a launch pad for journeys to Europe. Most migrants prefer sea routes due to the proximity of the coast to the Greek islands, while others prefer a land route to the northwest.

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