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Latest update : 2014-01-27

Immigration into Europe: Trapped in Turkey

To escape war or poverty, thousands of migrants try to enter Europe illegally via Turkey. Our reporter discovers the hazardous journey of these would-be exiles, whose dreams often come to an end in Istanbul.

Turkey has become the main point of entry for illegal immigration into the European Union. Citizens from many countries in Africa and Asia can easily enter Turkey with a simple tourist visa. Tens of thousands of migrants seeking to enter the Schengen zone arrive in Istanbul every year.

Risking their lives, they then join networks of people-smugglers who send them to Greece, Bulgaria and the Mediterranean islands. In recent years, several hundred of them drowned during night crossings on the river Evros, on the border between Turkey and Greece.

Up until 2011, this border was the most porous in Europe. Controls have been strengthened and today, most illegal immigrants trying to cross it are arrested by Greek police, and sent back to Turkey. They then find themselves trapped in Istanbul, without money or work. Our reporter infiltrated the networks of the Turkish smugglers and travelled with these migrants who dream of a European Eldorado.

By Romeo LANGLOIS

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