ANKARA: 52 undocumented migrants pushed back by Greek coastal authorities off the coast of Izmir province rescued by Turkish Coast Guard units on Wednesday.
The Coast Guard Command said in a statement late on Tuesday that they learned that there was a group of asylum seekers in life rafts off Dikili, Seferihisar, Foca, and Cesme districts and dispatched units to the areas.
Later, the asylum seekers, who were in five life rafts, were brought ashore and all of them were taken to provincial migration offices.
Turkey 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.
Earlier this month, 19 asylum seekers froze to death after they had their clothes taken and were pushed back at the Greek border.
The UN Refugee Agency has called for an urgent investigation after the tragedy at the Greek border.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Most try to cross into Greece by either crossing the northeastern land border or cramming into smuggling boats headed for the eastern Aegean Sea islands.
Turkey already hosts four 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.