Migrants rescued by Turkey, Ankara accuses Athens

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epa09131056 Members of the Turkish Coast Guard take migrants, who were allegedly pushed back from the Greece side, on a boat during a patrol to search and rescue for migrants offshore the Ayvalik district in Balikesir, Turkey, 10 April 2021 (issued 12 April 2012). The Greek island of Lesbos hosts one of the hotspots, an initial reception centers for migrants in European Union. Turkish authorities told epa/Efe that in 2020 around 45 percent of migrants rescued in the Aegean Sea had been pushed back from Greek territory. Most common cases involve migrant vessels being stopped by a Greek patrol when entering Greek waters, but the Turkish coastguard says it has heard lots of migrants describing 'delayed pushback,' when people are returned to the sea days after they reached Lesbos. According to Turkish officials, in this case, a Greek patrol carries the detained migrants to the limit of Greek territorial waters before putting them in a life raft and alerting Ankara. Since the beginning of 2021, Turkey has rescued around 2,700 migrants in the Aegean Sea, and some 1,900 migrants from a pushback. The Norwegian NGO Aegean Boat Report claims, some 558 people have been abandoned on 35 life rafts at sea so far in 2021. Some such incidents have ended with fatalities, the organizations claimed. EPA/ERDEM SAHIN ATTENTION: This Image is part of a PHOTO SET

The Turkish Coast Guard rescued 52 migrants who had attempted to illegally reach the Greek islands near the Aegean coast of Turkey, said Turkish daily Hurriyet.

It said rescues took place at various locations near the coast in the province of Smyrna.

In a statement, the Turkish coast guard said the migrants were pushed back by the Greek authorities.

Ankara regularly accuses Athens of turning back migrants attempting to illegally reach Greece by sea or land from Turkey.

Two weeks ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Greek security forces of pushing back 19 migrants who were found dead of hypothermia in the Thrace region in the area of the Turkish-Greek border.

Turkey hosts the most migrants in the world with around five million refugees in the country, according to President Erdogan.

Officially 3.7 million Syrians live in Turkish territory, above all in Istanbul.

Under a 2016 agreement, Ankara receives funds from the European Union in exchange for a commitment to keep its borders closed for those who illegally attempt to reach Europe.

Although Brussels decided last year to allocate an additional three billion euros for the reception of migrants in Turkey, Ankara is urgently asking the EU for more funds.

Source: ANSA

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