Turkish Coast Guard rescues 34 migrants from sinking boat
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULOct 04, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Oct 04, 2016 12:00 am
The Coast Guard rescued 34 illegal immigrants traveling to Greece when their boat started taking water and sinking off the western Aegean coast Monday.
Immigrants, including 32 Syrians, one Malian and one Algerian national, were traveling to the Greek island of Chios from Çeşme, a popular vacation resort in the Turkish province of İzmir. Eyewitnesses who saw the migrants departing the coast amid strong winds, informed the authorities. When the Coast Guard crews arrived, migrants, including women and children were struggling to stay afloat. They were transferred to the Coast Guard vessel by troops and then to the port of Çeşme, where they were given dry clothes and food.
Yesterday's batch of migrants in İzmir, a popular hub for illegal immigrants dreaming of reaching Greece, their gateway to Europe, were the latest in a seemingly increasing flow of immigrants heading to Greece from Turkey. Six migrants perished while 21 others remain missing after a packed boat carrying the group sank off the coast of Bodrum, south of Çeşme, last week.
The number of refugees caught trying to reach the Greek islands from Turkey via the Aegean Sea doubled in September compared to August, according to Turkish Coast Guard data.
During their attempts to reach the Greek shores, 3,300 refugees were held by the Coast Guard in September, the peak of the last six months, while 1,670 were held in August.
In the wake of an agreement between Turkey, home to nearly 3 million Syrian refugees, and the European Union, the favorite destination of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, migration to Europe significantly dropped. Official figures show a 90 percent drop in crossings by sea following the deal in March aiming to stop human smugglers trafficking migrants across the Aegean in dinghies. It allowed the return of "irregular migrants" to Turkey from Greece in exchange of the relocation of Syrian refugees in Turkey in the European Union countries. Figures show that, out of the 27,028 refugees intercepted by Turkey so far this year, 5,506 were held in January, 8,747 in February, 8,530 in March, 1,717 in April, 1,109 in May, 538 in June, and 881 in July.