Turkey rescued 79 irregular migrants across the country's coastline that had been pushed back by Greece in the Aegean Sea into Turkey's territorial waters, the Turkish Coast Guard Command said late Monday.
In a statement on its website, the Turkish coast guard said that on Oct. 23, Turkish forces rescued 33 people in a rubber boat off the Kuşadası district in Aydın province who were pushed into Turkish territorial waters by Greek authorities.
In a separate incident in the same area on Oct. 24, Turkish forces rescued 25 irregular migrants who were pushed into Turkish waters by Greece, the statement added.
Separately, on Oct. 11, coast guard teams rescued 21 irregular migrants in a rubber boat off Didim district in Aydın.
They were transferred to the provincial migration office.
Earlier this month, the European Union voiced concern over migrant pushbacks, saying such incidents damage the bloc's reputation.
"Some of these reports are shocking, and I'm extremely concerned," Ylva Johansson, the EU commissioner for Home Affairs, told reporters, citing a joint investigation by media outlets Der Spiegel, ARD and Liberation.
The investigation unearthed evidence that Greek, Croatian and Romanian authorities have been violently pushing back asylum-seekers crossing the bloc's external borders.
There is "mounting evidence" of pushbacks of asylum-seekers from Greece to Turkey recently, a United Nations human rights office spokesperson also said Tuesday.
"Pushbacks are illegal under international law and should not happen," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Marta Hurtado said at a U.N. press conference.
"Every person, every migrant, trying to cross an international border has the right of an individual assessment," Hurtado said.
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