The Turkish Coast Guard has rescued more than 900 migrants in the Aegean between June 22 and July 22, after they were pushed back by the Greek authorities into Turkey's territorial waters.
The migrants, most of them fleeing war and persecution in their native countries, were seeking to cross into Europe on rubber dinghies to start new lives.
During the one-month-period, a total of 929 migrants, pushed back by the Greek authorities, were rescued. Nearly 380 of them were rescued off the coast of Izmir, 238 in Balıkesir, 162 in Çanakkale, 108 in Muğla, 24 in Aydın and 18 in Antalya.
In 2019, a total of 29 migrants lost their lives between Jan. 1 to July 22 due to harsh conditions at the sea. This year, the tally reached 35 during the same period.
According to the Coast Guard Command, 12,609 irregular migrants, trying to cross to Greece, were held between Jan. 1 and July 22. Over 880 migrants were held from July 1 to July 22.
Turkish Coast Guard lent the rescued migrants a helping hand by providing them with food and clothes. Health care personnel also treated rescued migrants in bad health conditions.
Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants seeking to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Turkey earlier this year opened its gates for irregular migrants wanting to cross to Europe, accusing the European Union of failing to keep its promises under a 2016 migrant deal.
Greece's response to those trying to enter the country without prior authorization has been harsh, with at least three migrants having been killed by the Greek security forces along the land border with Turkey. Many others have been battered and teargassed.
Human Rights Watch urged Greece and the EU to respect human rights in light of Turkey's new policy of refusing to halt migrants and refugees trying to leave for Greece.
Ankara already hosts over 3.5 million Syrian migrants, more than any other country in the world and says it cannot handle another wave.
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