Turkiye rescued 79 irregular migrants in the Aegean Sea after they were pushed back by Greek coastal authorities, sources said Tuesday.
In the Aegean Sea off Dalaman district in southwestern Mugla province, coast guard teams rescued 31 asylum seekers who were illegally pushed back by Greek officials, said a source on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Separately, teams saved 19 additional asylum seekers who were similarly pushed back in the Aegean Sea off Bodrum district in Mugla, according to another source.
The Turkish Coast Guard Command in a statement said an additional 29 irregular migrants were rescued off the coast of Ayvalik district in Balikesir province in western Turkiye.
All of the migrants were transferred to the local provincial migration office.
In a separate statement, the Turkish Coast Guard Command said at least 318 irregular migrants were pushed back by Greek officials while another 84 migrants were held when attempting to illegally cross the border during the first four days of 2022.
According to the statement, coast guard teams rescued the asylum seekers in rubber boats at four locations off the coast of Karaburun, Cesme, Dikili and Foca districts in Izmir province.
Turkiye and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.
Turkiye has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
It already hosts 4 million refugees, more than any other country in the world, and is taking new security measures on its borders to humanely prevent a fresh influx of migrants.