The Turkish coast guard rescued 20 irregular migrants in the Aegean as pushbacks by Greek elements continue despite calls by humanitarian groups and several countries to stop its unlawful actions.
The irregular migrants were saved off Aydın province's resort town of Kuşadası, the Turkish Coast Guard Command said in a statement on its website Monday.
The coast guard team was assigned to the region upon the information that there was a group of irregular migrants in a boat off the coast of Kuşadası, it said.
After routine checks, all of the migrants were taken to the provincial migration authority.
Turkey has 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.
Turkey's five Aegean provinces – Çanakkale, Balıkesir, Izmir, Muğla and Aydın – are prime spots for refugees leaving Turkey for the European Union, with Greek islands lying within sight of the Turkish coast.
In recent years, hundreds of thousands have made short but perilous journeys across the Aegean in a bid 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.
Turkey and Greece are key transit points for migrants looking to cross into Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start new lives. Turkey has accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks, summary deportations and denying migrants access to asylum procedures, which is a violation of international law. Ankara also accuses the European Union of turning a blind eye to this blatant abuse of human rights.
Pushbacks are considered 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 of a social or political group.