The Turkish Coast Guard Command rescued 85 irregular migrants pushed back by Greek authorities off Izmir and Balıkesir provinces.
In Izmir, the coast guard saved 75 migrants and refugees off Çeşme, Dikili and Seferihisar districts on Sept. 20-21. The migrants were on rubber boats at the time of the rescue, Ihlas News Agency (IHA) cited the coast guard as saying.
They were transferred to the local migration authority after routine procedures, the report added.
In Balıkesir province, the coast guard rescued 10 irregular migrants pushed away by Greece.
They were on a life raft off Ayvalık and were sent to a repatriation center.
The nationality of the irregular migrants has not been reported, but individuals from war-torn countries such as Syria and Afghanistan have been attempting to cross the sea to reach Europe.
Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for migrants aiming to cross into Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start new lives. Turkey has accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks and summary deportations without migrants being given access to asylum procedures, which is a violation of international law. It also accuses the European Union of turning a blind eye to this blatant abuse of human rights.
Between January 2020 and March 2021, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) documented around 300 reported incidents of illegal expulsions around the Aegean islands and Greece's northeastern land border with Turkey. Several migrant support groups, including the Greek Helsinki Monitor, in May, filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice against Frontex, the EU's border monitoring agency.
A joint investigation by several international news outlets reported in October 2020 that Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, had been complicit in maritime pushback operations to drive away migrants attempting to enter the EU via Greek waters. A month later, Brussels-based news outlet EUobserver revealed that Frontex exchanged letters with Greek authorities about Athens' orders to push back migrants to Turkish waters.
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 in a social or political group.
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