The Turkish Coast Guard Command has rescued 5,964 irregular migrants in the first eight months of the year in the Aegean Sea pushed back by Greece.
According to data compiled by the Anadolu Agency (AA), the largest number of rescue operations for irregular migrants who were pushed back or stranded took place in the western province of Izmir.
Off the coast of Izmir, coast guard teams came to the rescue of 2,746 irregular migrants, including children and women whose boat engines were disabled by Greek forces and were left to die in rubber dinghies or life vests at sea.
Furthermore, as of Aug. 31, coast guard teams rescued 1,146 irregular migrants pushed back by Greece in Çanakkale, plus 729 irregular migrants in Balıkesir, 560 in Muğla and 738 in Aydın.
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 a number of boats carrying refugees sank or capsized. The Turkish Coast Guard Command has rescued thousands of others.
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 EU 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 in a social or political group.