The Coast Guard in western Turkey saved 58 illegal immigrants from certain death when their small boat started taking on water.
Migrants boarded a small boat in the early hours of Monday when it started taking on water. Acting on a tip-off, the Coast Guard crew reached the boat off Foça, a district on the Aegean shore of the İzmir province. A military vessel evacuated migrants to safety.
The group, who were trying to reach Greek islands in the proximity of Turkish shores, composed of 32 Iraqis, three Syrians, 10 Somalis, 2 Eritreans, six Afghans and five Bangladeshi nationals.
Despite the deadly risk, migrants still take the dangerous route of Greece by the Aegean sea almost daily from western Turkish shores. Paying high sums to smugglers, they board small boats that often capsize due to overcrowding. Tight patrolling by Coast Guard in the region is credited with preventing possible disasters. Yet, 63 people were killed in separate incidents this year so far when their boats sank in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. Figures for first eight months of 2018 show numbers of illegal immigrants intercepted while trying to cross into Europe from Turkey increased 37 percent compared to the same period last year. A total of 16,617 people of different nationalities were stopped by Coast Guard this year so far. A 80 percent drop was recorded in crossings in August, the lowest compared to the same month in 2017, yet, nine were killed while trying to cross into Greece.
Europe and Turkey managed to reduce the number of people risking their lives to cross into Europe via the Aegean shores of Turkey but the crossings and deaths persist due to lack of a concrete solution to the issue. In the past three years, countries in Europe, the main destination for migrants, failed to reach consensus for a humanitarian response to the migrant influx.
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