Turkey says coastguard rescued 15,000 migrants pushed back by Greece

Turkey rescued 15,174 irregular migrants pushed back by Greece into the sea last year, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.

The Turkish coastguard also recovered fifteen bodies from the open sea, Anadolu said.

Migrant pushbacks by Greece across the Aegean and an increase in refugees seeking asylum in Greece are among the issues contributing to ongoing tensions in Turkish-Greek relations.

Turkey has frequently blamed Greece of engaging in violent and unlawful pushbacks against refugees, saying the acts are a crime against humanity. Athens accuses Ankara of using asylum-seeking migrants as political weapons, saying that it is obliged to stop them covertly entering Greece under an EU-Turkey deal to stem migration flows.

Under the EU accord signed in 2016, Turkey agreed to curb the flow of migrants and refugees into the EU via Greece in exchange for 6 billion euros to support refugee-related services.

Anadolu said 6,595 migrants were rescued in the sea in the province of Izmir, 2,945 in Muğla, 2,909 in Aydın, 1,570 in Çanakkale and 1,126 in Balıkesir, all of which are western regions bordering the Aegean. Twenty-nine were rescued off Antalya, which borders the Mediterranean, it said.


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