Turkiye expresses concern over rising casualties along migration routes due to Greek pushback policy, forcing irregular migrants and refugees to change course directly to Italy.

Greece has adopted a push back policy to fend off refugees from its borders which leads to the deaths of asylum seekers in the Aegean waters.
Greece has adopted a push back policy to fend off refugees from its borders which leads to the deaths of asylum seekers in the Aegean waters. (AA)

Turkiye has rescued over 550 refugees and migrants over the last two weeks who were pushed back into Turkish territorial waters by Greek forces, the country's Coast Guard Command has said.

From December 13-25, "in a total of 52 incidents, 991 irregular migrants [or refugees] and 10 migrant smugglers were apprehended, and 526 irregular migrants pushed back into our territorial waters by Greek assets were rescued," it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The statement also highlighted Turkiye's efforts to prevent irregular migration and illegal activities on a 24/7 basis and to assist anyone in need of help at sea while respecting human rights and both domestic and international law

The command also expressed Turkiye's concern over rising casualties along migration routes due to Greek security forces' pushback policy, forcing irregular migrants and refugees to change course directly to Italy.

Greek officials' unfortunate statements blaming Turkiye show how unserious they are about addressing the situation, it added.

READ MORE: Death toll from Greece migrant boat accident rises

Scores more rescued

Meanwhile, the Turkish Coast Guard on Tuesday rescued 112 refugees, who were pushed back by Greek authorities in the Aegean Sea.

While 56 of them were rescued off the coast of Bodrum district, 32 others were rescued off Fethiye district in southwestern Mugla province.

Additional to Tuesday's operations, 24 refugees were saved while two of them were found dead in the country's western waters in Izmir, officials said.

Coast guards also noted that two of the refugees are missing.

Greece is the main route into the European Union for asylum seekers arriving via Turkiye.

Turkiye has been a key transit point for irregular migrants and refugees who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution in their countries.

It already hosts four million refugees, more than any other country in the world, and is taking new security measures on its borders to humanely prevent a fresh refugee influx.

READ MORE: Turkiye saves scores of refugees pushed back into sea by Greece

Source: TRTWorld and agencies