A total of 172 irregular migrants were rescued in the Aegean Sea off western Turkey, the country's Coast Guard Command reported Tuesday.
On Nov. 5, coast guard units were informed that there was a group of irregular migrants in a rubber boat off the coast of the Çeşme district of western Izmir province. The teams were dispatched to the area and rescued 16 irregular migrants in the boat.
On Nov. 6, 32 irregular migrants, who were identified on a rubber boat off the coast Izmir’s Dikili district, were taken to shore by the Coast Guard teams.
Another 24 migrants were detected by radar in the Dikili district and rescued; they were stuck due to engine failure and went adrift. Also off the Çeşme and Foça coasts, coast guard teams rescued 96 migrants on Nov. 7.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum-seekers attempting to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Turkey, which already hosts 4 million refugees, more than any other country in the world, is taking new security measures within and on its borders to prevent a fresh influx of migrants.
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 to leave Turkey for the European Union, with Greek islands lying within sight of the Turkish coast.
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 has accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks, summary deportations and denying migrants access to asylum procedures, which is a violation of international law. Ankara also accuses the European Union 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.
Most recently, a German weekly reported that Greece adopts "brutality against asylum seekers" as policy.
The EU has clear rules regarding the treatment of asylum-seekers, giving them the right to apply for asylum once they are within EU territory. But Greece violates these rights, Der Spiegel noted last week.