Turkish officials have apprehended some 1.2 million irregular migrants and more than 27,000 human traffickers over the past five years, according to official data from the country’s Directorate General of Migration Management, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Connecting Europe and Asia, Turkey is a common stop for irregular migrants en route to European countries.
Irregular migration has gained momentum due to domestic upheaval, economic crises and political uncertainty in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Iran as well as others on the African continent.
In 2019 Turkish authorities apprehended a record 454,662 irregular migrants across the country, with some 60,000 caught while crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
More than 200,000 of these were Afghan nationals, while over 71,000 were from Pakistan. Syrians ranked third on the list with some 55,000 irregular migrants.
In addition almost 9,000 human traffickers smuggling migrants across Turkey were caught during the year.
Turkey signed a deal with the European Union in 2016 to reduce the migrant influx to European countries, agreeing to take back migrants setting foot in Greek territory.