The European Commission expects Greek authorities to investigate allegations of pushbacks of asylum-seekers by border guards, including recent reports of an incident leading to the death of five children, an EU official told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Thursday.
On Tuesday, the Turkish coast guard found the lifeless bodies of six irregular migrants – two babies, three children and a woman – while rescuing 73 migrants on four life rafts in the Aegean Sea off the Turkish coast.
The rescued migrants told officials that they had been pushed back to Turkish territorial waters by Greek forces.
"We regret any loss of lives and recall the fundamental importance of ensuring all measures are taken to prevent such tragedies, as on the one recently reported by Turkey," Anitta Hipper, the European Commission spokesperson for home affairs, told AA.
The EU executive body "expects the national authorities to investigate any allegations, with a view to establishing the facts and properly follow up any possible wrongdoing," she added.
Hipper also confirmed that the European Commission repeatedly calls on EU members "to comply with the relevant laws ensuring that those in distress at sea are brought to safety as rapidly as possible."
Türkiye and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice of pushing back irregular migrants, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.
In recent years, hundreds of thousands have made short but perilous journeys across the Aegean to reach Northern and Western Europe in search of a better life. Hundreds of people have died at sea as many boats carrying refugees sank or capsized. The Turkish Coast Guard Command has rescued thousands of others.
Türkiye and Greece have been key transit points for migrants looking to cross into Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start new lives. Türkiye has accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks, summary deportations and denying migrants access to asylum procedures, violating international law. Ankara also accuses the European Union of turning a blind eye to this blatant human rights abuse.
Pushbacks are contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which dictate that people should not be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or membership in a social or political group.