Turkey rescues 526 asylum seekers pushed back by Greece
By Faruk Zorlu and Ahmet Gencturk
ANKARA (AA): Turkey has rescued 526 irregular migrants over the past 12 days who were pushed back into Turkish territorial waters by Greek forces, the country’s Coast Guard Command said Tuesday.
From Dec. 13-25, “in a total of 52 incidents, 991 irregular migrants and 10 migrant smugglers were apprehended, and 526 irregular migrants pushed back into our territorial waters by Greek assets were rescued,” it said in a statement.
The statement also highlighted Turkey’s efforts to prevent irregular migration and illegal activities on a 24/7 basis and to assist anyone in need of help at sea while respecting human rights and both domestic and international law
The command also expressed Turkey’s concern over rising casualties along migration routes due to Greek security forces’ pushback tactics and pressure policy, forcing irregular migrants to change course directly to Italy.
Greek officials’ unfortunate statements blaming Turkey show how unserious they are about addressing the situation, it added.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Coast Guard on Tuesday rescued 88 irregular migrants, including 56 who were pushed back by Greek authorities in the Aegean Sea.
While 56 of the migrants were rescued off the coast of Bodrum district, 32 others were rescued off Fethiye district in southwestern Mugla province.
Greece is the main route into the European Union for asylum seekers arriving via Turkey.
Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution in their countries.
It already hosts 4 million refugees, more than any other country in the world, and is taking new security measures on its borders to humanely prevent a fresh influx of migrants.
[Photo: Asylum seekers rescued by Turkish coast guards after Greek forces illegally pushed them back into Turkey’s territorial waters in Izmir, Turkey on December 24, 2021. Photographer: Mehmet Emin Mengüarslan/AA]
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