The Turkish Coast Guard has rescued 172 irregular migrants pushed back by Greece off Izmir province since Sunday.
On Aug. 29, 72 migrants and refugees were rescued near Menderes district in Izmir after being pushed back by Greek coastal authorities.
On Aug. 30, 32 others pushed back by Greek authorities were rescued off Çeşme district and 30 migrants who requested help off Karaburun district were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard.
The Turkish Coast Guard also rescued 31 irregular migrants near Dikili district and seven others off Foça district on Aug. 31.
After routine checks, they 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.
Meanwhile, at least four irregular migrants were held in Turkey’s Kocaeli province early Thursday.
They were caught in a bus at a security checkpoint and police also arrested the driver.
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 also 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.
The Turkish Coast Guard Command has rescued 5,693 irregular migrants that were pushed back by Greek forces in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas in the first half of 2021, according to data from the coast guard’s website.
The Greek government has repeatedly denied the accusations.
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 Evros land border with Turkey.
Several migrant support groups, including the Greek Helsinki Monitor, in May filed a complaint at the European Court of Justice against Frontex, the EU's border monitoring agency.
The case was based on testimony from Ange, a young woman from Burundi, who said she and a Congolese minor were assaulted, robbed and detained on their arrival on the Greek island of Lesbos, then abandoned on rafts without a motor, water or food.
On July 6, Ange managed to reach Greece again by disembarking on the island of Samos with about 20 other people, according to her lawyer Panayote Dimitras.
After taking refuge in the woods for several hours, Ange contacted her lawyer who wrote to UNHCR as well as the local migrant camp and police to ensure that she would not be forcibly returned to Turkey again.
Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements that say people shouldn't be expelled or returned to a country where their life or safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or membership of a social or political group.
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