Authorities save 283 migrants and refugees stranded in a boat off the country's southern coast as President Erdogan berates Greece for turning Aegean Sea into a "refugee graveyard."
Türkiye's Coast Guard Command has saved the lives of 283 irregular migrants and refugees in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
The refugees were rescued after an emergency call was received on Monday night from a location some 160 kilometres south of Kas, a coastal town in southwestern Türkiye, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.
After the mayday call from the refugee boat, all nearby commercial ships were contacted and directed to reach the location while four Turkish Coast Guard boats were also dispatched to the site.
The Turkish Navy also sent a frigate and corvette to assist in the rescue mission. It also used a drone to track down the boat, footage showed.
The refugees and migrants, including women and children, safely boarded a commercial vessel that reached their location, which then headed to southern Antalya province accompanied by Turkish Coast Guard ships.
Türkiye has rescued tens of thousands of refugees and migrants in the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean seas, fleeing conflicts in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
“The refugee crisis cannot be solved by sinking the boats or putting refugees in concentration camps”— TRT World (@trtworld) September 20, 2022
Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the 77th session of UNGA in New York, adding that Greece pushbacks turn Aegean Sea into “refugee graveyard” pic.twitter.com/alD6P60sa0
'Greece turned Aegean into graveyard'
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called out Greece for its "persecution" of refugees in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean.
"While we are struggling to prevent the deaths of more babies like Aylan, Greece is turning the Aegean into a graveyard of refugees with its unlawful and reckless pushbacks," Erdogan said during his speech at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.
The refugee crisis cannot be solved by placing innocent people seeking a better future in concentration camps or leaving them on boats to die, he added.
The body of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian refugee, washed ashore a Turkish beach in 2015, with a photo of him becoming the defining image of the refugee crisis.
"It is high time for Europe and the United Nations to put an end to these atrocities that are tantamount to crimes against humanity," Erdogan said.
1⃣On September 14, 2022, a Turkish Navy UAV detected irregular migrants being transferred to two inflatable boats and pushed back towards Turkish territorial waters by a Greek Coast Guard boat in the northwest of Çeşme, Uzunadalar. pic.twitter.com/ghOIDp4a61— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) September 16, 2022
Ankara and global rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice of pushing asylum seekers back into Turkish waters and denying them entry, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable people, including women and children.
"We expect Greece to shun its politics of provocations and heed our calls for cooperation," Erdogan said.