BY DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL MAR 31, 2022 –
A Turkish coast guard officer, wearing protective gear to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, lifts a child off a life raft during a rescue operation in the Aegean Sea, between Turkey and Greece, Sept. 12, 2020. (AP File Photo)
Turkish coast guard units saved 38 irregular migrants in the Aegean Sea and intercepted dozens of others across different provinces on Wednesday.
Acting on tips, the coast guard units found 38 migrants in three different lifeboats off Bodrum’s coast.
They were pushed back by Greek forces into Turkish territorial waters, said coast guard sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Separately, a total of 67 irregular migrants were also held by Turkish security forces in various provinces of the country.
A group of 26 irregular migrants was found by the coast guard in an inflatable boat off the coast of Izmir in western Turkey.
Another group of 12 people from Morocco who entered the country illegally was held by Turkish security forces in Kofcaz in northwestern Kırklareli province.
Ten irregular migrants, including nine Syrians and an Afghan, were also found in a minibus on the southeastern Iskenderun-Adana road.
Stopped by Turkish gendarmerie teams, the authorities discovered they had illegally entered the country.
Syrian human traffickers were also detained for allegedly smuggling migrants.
In a separate operation, coast guard units also rescued 19 irregular migrants of various nationalities from an inflatable boat drifting off the coast of Ayvacık in northwestern Çanakkale province.
All the irregular migrants were taken to provincial migration offices.
Turkey and Greece are key transit points for migrants looking to cross into Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start new lives. Turkey has accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks, summary deportations and denying migrants access to asylum procedures, which is a violation of international law.
The Turkish government and human rights groups have 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.
Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements that say people should not be expelled or returned to a country where their life or safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality, or membership in a social or political group.
Turkey 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.
In recent years, hundreds of thousands have made short but perilous journeys across the Aegean to reach northern and Western Europe in search of a better life.
Hundreds of people have died at sea as many boats carrying refugees often sink or capsize. The Turkish Coast Guard Command has rescued thousands of others.