Atotal of 45 irregular migrants, all hailing from Afghanistan, were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard Command on Monday, after they were pushed back into Turkish territorial waters.
Coast guard personnel discovered migrants including children off the coast of Ayvacık, in the northwestern Turkish province of Çanakkale. They were the latest victims of illegal Greek pushbacks.
After the necessary procedures, the migrants who were brought ashore, were transferred to the Ayvacık migration office.
Türkiye and global rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back irregular migrants, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children. In some cases, it ends up with the deaths of migrants, especially at the inland border of Türkiye with Greece during winter months. The Aegean Sea’s treacherous waters also pose a danger for migrants who brave perilous journeys.
Last month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that it has long been alarmed by the “increasing frequency” of Greek migrant pushbacks. “We are aware of the recent reports from the Turkish coast guard. In terms of pushbacks in general – at both land and sea borders – we have long been sounding the alarm on the increasing frequency of expulsions and pushbacks of refugees and asylum seekers at Europe’s land and sea borders and have called on states to investigate and halt these practices,” UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Her remarks came after a weekend pushback of dozens of migrants into Turkish territorial waters by Greece. “States must uphold their commitments and respect fundamental human rights, including the right to life and right to seek asylum,” she urged.
In the first week of July alone, Greek naval forces pushed 84 irregular migrants into Turkish territorial waters near Ayvacık. The Turkish Coast Guard Command’s Northern Aegean Group Command conducted a rescue operation, bringing the individuals ashore.
On being asked what she thinks about the ongoing pushbacks after the June 14 deadly shipwreck off the Peloponnese, southwestern Greece, which killed at least 82 migrants as hundreds more are feared to have drowned, Mantoo said, “We are very concerned by reports and testimonies that have emerged following this tragic incident.” She welcomed the investigation into the incident, saying that it must be “impartial and independent in order to ascertain the circumstances which led to the boat capsizing and the tragic loss of life.” She added: “This requires that the investigation focuses on all aspects of the incident and identifies all potential liabilities, and opportunities should be afforded to all affected individuals to be heard in the context of the investigation, and their protection ensured.”
Source : Daily Sabah