As Europe’s migrant crisis continues to worsen, Turkey has stood out as the country that continues to be targeted as a bridge to the continent, largely due to its geographic location.
Bodrum, a city that used to be known for providing high-end accommodations for those visiting Turkey, has instead become a major magnet city for migrants in recent months. As the Associated Press reported on Monday, in some locations, Bodrum lies just 2.5 miles from Europe.
“Migrants, mostly from Syria, but also from Afghanistan, Iran and African nations often try to cross from the secluded beaches of Bodrum peninsula in groups upward of eight people in inflatable plastic boats meant for a maximum of four, powered by tiny electric outboard motors and plastic paddles,” the AP reported.
An unnamed Turkish official told the AP that migrants are now using inflatable boats for their journey across the Aegean Sea, which is a safer route compared with other crossings.
“The Aegean is a lot easier. All they need is a Zodiac boat and they are on an island in half an hour,” the official explained.
Southern European governments have noticed a surge in Middle Eastern and African migrants coming from Turkey. This year alone, Greece has seen 134,988 new migrant inhabitants. Similarly, Italy has reported that 93,540 foreigners have come into the country in 2015.
And the journey into Europe has often been dangerous for migrants, as estimates state that, this year alone, over 2,300 people have died attempting the crossing.
On Monday, Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, called on European Union nations to unite and solve the ongoing migrant crisis.
She told Germany’s ZDF public television that the migrant issue will “preoccupy Europe much, much more than the issue of Greece and the stability of the euro.”
“The issue of asylum could be the next major European project, in which we show whether we are really able to take joint action,” Merkel added.