Thousands of migrants attempt to cross the Aegean sea and arrive in Greece  | Photo: A. Messinis/AFP
Thousands of migrants attempt to cross the Aegean sea and arrive in Greece | Photo: A. Messinis/AFP

The Turkish coast guard says that it has rescued about 120 migrants in several operations in the Aegean Sea. At least four boats were pushed back into Turkey's waters by Greece, the reports claim.

Turkey's Coast Guard Command has rescued a total of 123 migrants off the provinces of Mugla, Canakkale, and Balikesir on Monday, January 17, according to statements published on its official website.

The migrant boats were stopped and then brought to shore in at least five different operations.

In one operation, the coast guard units said they intercepted a life raft carrying 18 migrants near the shores of Bodrum city in Mugla province. The boat had been pushed back to Turkish waters by the Greeks, the statement claims.

On the same day and around the same location, another group of 20 migrants on a rubber dinghy was reportedly helped to the Turkish shore. The statement says that coast guard units were deployed after being tipped off that the boat was struggling with an engine failure.

Another statement says that on Monday at noon, a migrant boat with 36 passengers was intercepted near the port of Ayvalik which lies approximately 37 kilometers away from the Greek island of Lesbos. The report claims that this boat too had arrived in Turkish waters after having been pushed back by the Greeks.

Earlier at 03:45 am, the coast guard vessels had rescued another boat in the same area which, according to the statement, carried 17 migrants and was drifting away due to an engine failure.

Another two operations were conducted in the coastal provinces of Mugla and Çanakkale the same day, the Turkish coast guard command reported. In each operation, 16 migrants were returned to Turkey. Both boats had been pushed back by Greek forces, the Turkish authorities claim.

Turkey is one of the main transit routes for thousands of migrants fleeing conflict or poverty in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia who try to reach EU territories in Greece by crossing the Aegean Sea.

Also read: Migrant departures on the sea from Turkey back to pre-COVID levels

Accusations on both sides

Turkey and Greece have repeatedly accused each other of breaching international agreements.

Under a deal signed in 2016 with the European Union, Turkey is obliged to prevent irregular flows of migrants to EU territories. About 4,109 refugees and migrants arrived in Greece by sea in 2021, UN data shows.

The Greek authorities say Turkey has not taken sufficient action to curb human trafficking, whereas Turkey often accuses Greece of violating international laws by conducting large-scale pushbacks and arbitrary deportations of migrants without giving them a chance to apply for asylum.


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