08/19/2019, 10.46
TURKEY - EU
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Turkish coast guard arrests 330 migrants headed for Greece

The boats left the western province of Canakkale and were intercepted during seven patrol operations.  On board people from Afghanistan, Syria and Palestinians.  The migration flow from Turkey to Europe has increased in recent weeks.  Since August 10th, about 700 people have been intercepted.

 

Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Ankara Coast Guard yesterday arrested a group of 330 migrants, among whom there were people from Afghanistan, Syria and Palestinians fleeing war and violence while trying to land on the Greek island of  Lesbos, according to Turkey's state news agency Anadolu.

The boats had left the previous day from the district of Kucukkuyu, in the western province of Canakkale, and were intercepted during seven operations patrolling the coast.

Recent estimates indicate that the number of refugees trying to leave Turkey in the direction of the Greek islands is constantly increasing.  Since August 10 the ships of the Turkish coast guard have intercepted and blocked almost 700 people.

Turkey welcomes more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, a world record.  President Erdogan had previously promoted a policy of solidarity between Muslims, since disavowed, making it a transit country for illegal migrants.  Most of them try to reach the coasts of the European Union (EU), especially Greece and Italy as landing nations, and then head for the northern nations.

The authorities in Ankara have blocked this flow, following a framework agreement reached with Brussels which included substantial economic aid (up to three billion euros) in exchange for closing the route.  This has led to a radical decrease in the number of refugees, especially Syrians, able to cross Europe's borders through Greece.

According to United Nations estimates, the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Italy via North Africa, crossing the Mediterranean, is 172,301 for 2017;  a figure in sharp decline compared to 362,753 in 2016 and one million and more in the previous year.

For the first eight months of 2019, the figure is just over 50 thousand (50,866).  Most of these are directed towards the coasts of Greece.

Despite the agreements between Ankara and Brussels and the crackdown imposed by local authorities, Turkey is still today one of the main starting points for migrants to the rest of Europe.

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