Migrants in a dinghy paddle their way on Mediterranean Sea to attempt crossing to the Greek island of Kos, as a Turkish Coast Guard ship patrols off the shores off Bodrum | Photo: REUTERS
Migrants in a dinghy paddle their way on Mediterranean Sea to attempt crossing to the Greek island of Kos, as a Turkish Coast Guard ship patrols off the shores off Bodrum | Photo: REUTERS

The Turkish coastguard has intercepted hundreds of migrants on the way to Greece in seven overnight operations on Saturday. 330 people were detained by security forces, state news agency Anadolu reported.

Turkish authorities have stopped 330 migrants in northwestern Turkey including Afghans, Syrians and Palestinians from reaching Europe illegally, the state news agency reported on Sunday.

The migrants attempted to cross from into the Greek island of Lesbos in boats from the Ayvacik district in the Turkish Canakkale province.

The number of people attempting to cross to Lesbos has surged recently. The Turkish coast guard said in a statement that around 700 people had been intercepted on the crossing since August 10. 

500 arrive on Greek islands

Meanwhile, 498 migrants made their way to the Greek islands or the mainland from Turkey between Friday morning and Sunday noon.

"We still don't have final figures. New boats keep arriving," an officer of the Greek coastguard told the German news agency dpa on Sunday. The officer assumes that the higher numbers of migrants are due to the favorable conditions in the Aegean Sea at the moment.

The refugee hotspots on the Greek islands are severely overcrowded, currently holding around 21,000 refugees and migrants at a capacity of 8,900. The Greek government has announced it wants to speed up asylum procedures and plans to allocate more asylum personnel to the Greek islands. In many cases, asylum processes take longer than two years. 

Short, but perilous sea crossing

Mediterranean arrivals into the European Union dropped from 362,753 in 2016 and over a million in 2015 to 172,301 in 2017, according to U.N. data.

Numbers declined sharply since 2015 after Turkey, in exchange for 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in European Union aid and a promise to ease visa restrictions for Turkish nationals, began to exert more control on migrants trying to cross to the EU via its territory.

Yet many still attempt the short but perilous sea trip and Turkey remains one of the main launch points, dpa reports.

With material from dpa, Reuters, AFP

 

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