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Turkey has apprehended 60 pct more migrants trying to reach Europe this year

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The number of migrants apprehended while trying to reach Europe from Turkey has increased by 60 percent over the same period last year, according to data from the Coast Guard Command, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Sunday.

A total of 14,470 migrants were caught in the first seven months of this year, mainly in the Aegean Sea but also in the Mediterranean and Black seas, the data revealed.

The figure was 9,152 during the same period of 2017.

According to the data, most migrants prefer to use the Aegean Sea to cross illegally into Europe since a number of Greek islands are located close to Turkish coasts.

A total of 13,336 irregular migrants used the Aegean to cross into Greece this year, the data revealed.

Among the irregular migrants intercepted by Turkey so far this year, 1,640 were apprehended in January, 1,363 in February, 1,849 in March, 2,534 in April, 3,398 in May, 1,925 in June and 1,761 in first 29 days of July.

Coast Guard data show 54 irregular migrants died this year, compared to 20 during the same period last year.

In March 2016 the EU and Turkey reached an agreement to stop irregular migration through the Aegean Sea and improve the conditions of more than 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Turkey hosts some 3.5 million Syrians — more than any other country in the world.

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