Turkey rescues 97 asylum seekers in Aegean Sea
By Sabri Kesen, Gokhan Duzyol and Ali Balli
MUGLA/AYDIN, Turkey (AA): Turkey rescued 97 asylum seekers who were illegally pushed back by the Greek Coast Guard into Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, security sources said Wednesday.
Acting on a tip-off, the Turkish Coast Guard teams rescued 18 asylum seekers from a rubber boat off the coast of Marmaris, southwestern Mugla province, said a source on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
In addition, 26 more asylum seekers from a rubber boat were rescued off the coast of Bodrum.
After routine checks, they were taken to the provincial migration authority.
Separately, the Turkish Coast Guard rescued 53 asylum seekers off the coasts of Kusadasi and Didim, western Aydin province.
They were also pushed back by Greek coastal authorities.
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 has been a key transit point for asylum seekers who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Turkey, which already hosts 4 million refugees, more than any country in the world, is taking new security measures on its borders to prevent a fresh influx of migrants.
*Writing by Seda Sevencan
[Archive Photo: Turkey Coast guard helicopters rescue operation over Aegean Sea refugees in rocks offshore Dikili districtt Izmir on 14 December 2017. Photographer: Cem Oksuz/AA]