The Turkish coast guard saved 46 irregular migrants who were pushed back by the Greek coast guard into Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean Sea in two separate incidents, a security source said.
Coast guard units rescued 40 migrants and refugees from a rubber boat off the coast of Ayvalık in Turkey's northwestern Balıkesir province, said the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Authorities brought the group to Cunda Island, where they were provided with food, clothing and medical supplies.
In another incident off the coast of Marmaris in Turkey's southwestern Muğla province, six migrants and refugees who were pushed back by the Greek coast guard into Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean Sea were rescued.
They were transferred to a local coast guard command, another source said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The asylum-seekers were later transferred to the provincial repatriation center.
Separately, acting on a tipoff, the Turkish Coast Guard Command dispatched a boat off the coast of Bodrum in southwestern Muğla province after learning that an asylum-seeker was stranded on a lifeboat, security sources said.
The asylum-seeker was taken to the shore and later referred to the provincial migration office.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum-seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Turkey 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.
Turkey has accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks and summary deportations without access to asylum procedures, which is a violation of international law. It also accuses the European Union of turning a blind eye to what it says is a blatant abuse of human rights.
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.
On March 3, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that Greece's practice of pushing irregular migrants back to Turkey amounts to a clear violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights and European Union law.
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