The Turkish Coast Guard Command rescued 125 irregular migrants who were pushed back by Greek authorities in the Aegean Sea.
In a statement published on its website Wednesday, the Turkish coast guard said that on Oct. 8 and Oct. 11, Turkish forces rescued a total of 70 people in two rubber boats, which were pushed into Turkish territorial waters by the Greek authorities off Seferihisar district of Izmir province.
Separately, on Oct. 11, the teams rescued 30 more irregular migrants in rubber boats off Izmir's Dikili district.
They were transferred to the provincial migration office.
Meanwhile, in Muğla province, Turkey rescued a total of 25 irregular migrants in the Aegean Sea after they were pushed back by the Greek authorities, a separate statement by the Turkish Coast Guard Command said, adding rescue teams arrived in the region after information that a group of irregular immigrants were sailing on a rubber boat off the Bozburun district.
A total of 21 Syrians, three Palestinians and one Egyptian national, including women and children, were among those rescued.
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 key spots for refugees to leave 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 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 have been key transit points for migrants, fleeing war and persecution, looking to cross into Europe 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 that dictate 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.
In a recently published report, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) revealed that migrants at EU borders still face difficult conditions and violations of rights in detention and reception centers.
The report also noted that pushing migrants back to Turkey has become the de facto border policy of Greece and that torture, ill-treatment and pushbacks continue.
Furthermore, Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson last week announced that the EU expects Greece to investigate reports of illegal migrant pushbacks at its border.
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