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Turkey: 3,771 irregular migrants held over past week

Irregular migrants are brought to Ayvalik Coast Guard Command in Balikesir's Cunda island after rescued by members of Turkish Coast Guard Command on November 19, 2018 in Balikesir, Turkey. Turkish Coast Guard on Monday rescued all 44 irregular migrants, including women and children, stranded in Yumurta Island in Aegean town of Ayvalik district of the western Balikesir province, during the rescue operation, sources said. ( Hakan Firik - Anadolu Agency )
Irregular migrants are brought to Ayvalik Coast Guard Command in Balikesir's Cunda island after rescued by members of Turkish Coast Guard Command on 19 November, 2018 in Balikesir, Turkey [Hakan Firik/Anadolu Agency]

A total of 3,771 irregular migrants were held across Turkey over the past week, according to data compiled by Anadolu Agency from security sources.

As many as 1,643 irregular migrants were caught in multiple operations carried out by gendarmerie forces in northwestern Edirne province, which borders Greece and Bulgaria.

The migrants included Pakistani, Moroccan, Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan, Egyptian and Bangladeshi nationals.

In other northwestern provinces of Kirklareli and Tekirdag, a total of 182 irregular migrants were held by gendarmerie forces during the same period.

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In the coastal provinces of Mersin, Canakkale, Balikesir, Aydin, Izmir and Mugla, coastguard and gendarmerie forces rounded up a total of 1,168 migrants, who were attempting to cross to Europe through Greece.

Separately, border forces in Hatay province caught 172 migrants, which reportedly entered Turkey illegally, from Syria.

In eastern Van province, bordering Iran, a total of 434 migrants were held by the gendarmerie and border forces.

In other eastern provinces of Siirt and Kars, security forces held 84 migrants over the past week.

Some 75 irregular migrants were also held by police in Turkey’s capital Ankara.

In addition, 13 migrants were held in Nigde province as they were entering the country through illegal means.

Security forces also arrested 25 people for alleged human smuggling.

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All of the migrants were either taken to hospitals to receive medical care or transferred to provincial migration offices.

Some 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, according to the Interior Ministry.

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

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