Migrant deaths in the Aegean Sea plummeted by 85 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, according to Turkey’s Coast Guard Command.
A total of 61 people lost their lives trying to cross the Aegean in 2017, down from 434 people in 2016 and 806 people in 2015, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Turkey has been a major route for refugees trying to cross into Europe, especially since the beginning of the civil war in Syria.
Of 853,650 people seeking to cross from Turkey to Greece in 2015, 91,611 were detained by the Turkish Coast Guard Command, working in coordination with other security forces to prevent illegal crossings. In 2016 this number dropped to 37,130 out of 173,614, and finally to 21,937 out of 28,907 in 2017.
Authorities estimate that attempts to migrate from Turkey to Greece have been reduced by 97 percent since 2015.
More than 4,250 undocumented migrants and refugees who were trying to reach Europe using illegal routes as well as over 100 smugglers were detained in Turkey during 2017.
Meanwhile, on Jan. 2 the security forces detained a total of 92 undocumented migrants who were planning to illegally cross into Europe, Anadolu Agency reported.
The Turkish Coast Guard apprehended 55 undocumented migrants on a boat in waters between Turkey and Greek islands on Jan. 2, while a total of 42 undocumented migrants have been detained in the northwestern province of Kirklareli, the agency said.
In Dikili, a district in the Aegean province of İzmir, the 55 migrants were held while trying to cross to the Greek island of Lesbos in a dinghy, a security official told the agency on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
The boat was first intercepted by a Turkish air unit patrolling over the Aegean Sea and stopped by the coast guard, the official said.
Thirty-six Syrians, six Angolans, five Senegalese, four Congolese, three Somalis and one Gambian were later taken to the provincial migration authority.
Turkey has been a main route for refugees trying to cross into Europe since the beginning of the civil war in Syria.
Among the 42 undocumented migrants apprehended in two districts of Kırklareli (Babaeski and Demirköy) on the same day were Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians, Pakistanis, Anadolu Agency reported.
The 42 undocumented people were later taken to a provincial migration authority along with two others who were allegedly organizers of the crossing attempt.