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    Nine migrant traffickers were apprehended in western Turkey’s Anakkale.

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    Somali Magazine 31 Aug 2023- Turkish police on Tuesday arrested nine of the 13 people it had detained earlier for suspected migrant smuggling in western Çanakkale province.

    In raids conducted on Aug. 12-25 to curb migrant smuggling and catch organizers, police apprehended 11 suspects. The remaining two suspects who fled are still being pursued, police said.

    Authorities also seized 10 vehicles, 40 life jackets as well as TL 58,665 ($2,193), 3 grams of gold and $3 for being “criminally gotten income” during the operations.

    The arrests add to the 19 migrant smugglers caught in Çanakkale and southwestern Muğla provinces earlier this week.

    Some 71 Afghan nationals, who were involved in several crimes, were also caught while trying to cross over the Greek island of Lesbos from Türkiye’s Ayvacık district.

    Similarly, police detained five more suspected smuggling migrants and 61 irregular migrants, including 16 women and four children, looking to cross over to Greece in the western Balıkesir province.

    The smugglers were bringing migrants from various provinces and keeping them at several summer houses near the Aegean shores, police said.

    Meanwhile, the Turkish coast guard also reported Wednesday that some 80 asylum-seekers were rescued off Theale and Aydın provinces after Greece pushed them back to the coast of Çanakkale.

    The migrants consisted of Afghan, Yemeni and Somali nationals, authorities said.

    All irregular migrants were handed to the provincial migration offices to be sent back to their countries.

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

    Greece has employed a notorious policy of pushing back asylum-seekers since the height of the migration crisis in 2015.

    The Greek government denies all allegations, despite claims to the contrary from alleged victims, rights groups, Turkish drone footage and even the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

    “In Greece, pushbacks at land and sea borders have become the de facto general policy,” the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe Gonzalez Morales, said last year.

    Similarly, many in the international community, including Türkiye, have frequently condemned the practice as a violation of humanitarian values and international law for endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants.

    Greece has also been accused of deliberately and systematically cooperating with the EU’s border agency Frontex for the pushbacks, according to a 2022 investigation by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).

    While the Turkish coast guard has rescued thousands sent back by Greek authorities, countless others died at sea as boats full of refugees sank or capsized, especially in the Aegean Sea, where both countries share a border.

    The International Organization for Migration (IOM) recorded nearly 2,000 migrants dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea last year.

    For Ankara, “international injustice” is the leading cause of irregular migration. According to Turkish officials, it is necessary to improve conditions in the countries where illegal migrants hail from, along with the need for voluntary returns in line with international standards for intercepted irregular migrants.

    In July, Türkiye joined over 20 nations and international organizations to launch the “Rome Process” to prevent and tackle irregular migration and human trafficking.

    In early August, Türkiye joined forces with the United Kingdom to slow the flow of irregular migrants passing through its northern and western territory on their way to Europe.

    A new operational center comprising Turkish and British police will cooperate in sharing customs data, information and intelligence, people and technology to disrupt and dismantle human trafficking gangs and the manufacture and supply of materials that enable small boat crossings.

    Source Daily Sabah

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