Turkey on Tuesday rescued at least 76 asylum seekers, including some who were pushed back by Greek Coast Guard forces into Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, according to a security source.
Of these, 68 were rescued from a rubber boat off the coast of Ayvalik in Turkey’s northwestern Balikesir province, said the source who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Authorities brought the group to Cunda Island, where they were provided food, clothing and medical supplies.
In a separate incident, Turkish Coast Guard teams rescued another eight asylum seekers stranded in the Aegean Sea off Altinova village of Ayvalik district when their rubber boat’s engine failed.
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 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.
*Writing by Ahmet Gencturk