The Turkish coast guard rescued a total of 228 illegal immigrants in several separate incidents during the last three days till Wednesday off Turkey’s Aegean coast, the coast guard announced on its website.
The first incident happened off the Bozburun Peninsula in Turkey’s southwestern province of Mugla when the Greek coast guard teams pushed 23 immigrants back to Turkey in a life raft on Monday, the force said in a statement.
Near the same location, the Turkish teams rescued another 60 asylum-seekers in a wooden boat drifting in the sea on the same day, it added.
The immigrants claimed that they were forced to sail back to Turkish territorial waters after their mobile phones and money were taken by the Greek coast guard teams, according to press reports.
In three other incidents off the western provinces of Izmir and Balikesir, the teams also rescued a total of 126 immigrants whose boats were pushed back to Turkey by the Greek units.
Additionally, the coast guard saved 19 immigrants off Turkey’s northwestern province of Canakkale from a boat that had an engine failure, according to another statement.
Since the start of this year, a total of 13,041 immigrants attempted to reach Greece via Turkey’s seas, down from 17,516 over the same period in 2019, according to the latest figures released by the Turkish coast guard.
The Aegean Sea was once the main route for immigrants trying to reach Europe via Turkey. A deal was signed between Turkey and the European Union in March 2016 to curb the flow of illegal immigration.