Turkish coast guards have rescued at least 350 refugees from drowning in Aegean Sea in last four days as they were trying to reach the Greek islands through dangerous sea journeys.
Turkey is a transit point for refugees aiming to reach European countries from Syria and Iraq because of its geography bridging the Middle East and Europe.
Syrian refugees escaping the violence in their country fled Syria in large numbers following the escalation of the Syrian Civil War in 2012.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees have made short-but-perilous journeys using unsafe boats over the past year in an attempt to reach northern Europe in hope of a better life.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 1.1 million refugees arrived in Europe last year, more than 850,000 of those arrived by sea to Greece from Turkey.
805 people died in the Aegean in 2015. In the first month of 2016, more than 52,000 people arrived in Greece by sea, IOM reported, more than 200 died off the Turkish coast.
Meanwhile, Turkish security forces seized a total number of 110 Syrian nationals who were trying to illegally cross into Europe from Izmir and Aydin provinces on Thursday.
Another 89 refugees who were allegedly planning to arrive in Greece were caught in Canakkale and Balikesir provinces.
Turkey’s Aegean provinces such as Canakkale, Balikesir, Izmir, Mugla and Aydin are focal points for refugees heading to Europe as well as many Greek islands lying within sight of the Turkish coast.
Turkey and the European Union signed a deal last November under which Turkey agreed to curb the number of refugees crossing over to Greece in return for three billion euros ($3.2 billion) in aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey and the speeding up of its EU membership bid.
However, more than 100,000 refugees have illegally crossed to Greece from Turkey since the beginning of 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration. Most of them have the hope of ending end up in Western Europe, namely in Germany.
Turkey, which hosts the biggest number of refugees climbing to 2.7 million people, has spent nearly $10 billion of its own resources on them.