Turkey sees all-time high number of held migrants

The number of irregular migrants in reached an all-time high of over 269,000 between this Jan. 1 and Sept. 12, according to official state data.

The number of migrants held in 2019 has already topped last year's overall number of just over 268,000, according to the Migration Management Directorate General. The number may well rise further by the end of the year.

Most of the attempts at irregular migration took place in the northwestern border province of Edirne, where nearly 74,000 were held, up 70% from last year.

Over the last 15 years, the overall number of held irregular migrants reached 1.53 million, and the yearly breakdown of held irregular migrants since 2015 is listed below:

Year Number of irregular migrants
2015 146,485
2016 174,466
2017 175,752
2018 268,003
2019 (8.5 months 269,059

In the Aegean Sea, since January coast guard and gendarmerie teams held 31,641 irregular migrants in 920 operations. During the operations 44 were arrested. Twenty-eight of the immigrants died in the Aegean.

The migrants in 2019 were mostly Afghan and Pakistani nationals, and the number of held immigrants by country is listed below:

Country of origin Number of irregular migrants
Afghanistan 117,437
Palestine 8,168
Georgia 1,500
Iraq 8,404
Iran 5,491
Moldova 139
Myanmar 157
Pakistan 43,204
Syria 29,796
Others 54,763

Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants aiming to cross to Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

A 2016 refugee deal between Turkey and the European Union aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean by cracking down on human traffickers and improving the conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Some migrants who came by foot lost their lives during the "journey of hope," and others were rescued by security forces on the way to Europe.

Efforts against irregular migration continue in eastern and southeastern Anatolia, , and the .

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