At least 48 asylum seekers whose boats were pushed back by Greek coastal authorities into Turkish waters in the Aegean Sea were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard on Saturday, according to security sources.
The Turkish Coast Guard was dispatched to a location off Çeşme in the western Izmir province after being informed of a group of asylum seekers stranded on a dinghy, said a source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
A total of 19 asylum seekers were brought ashore, the source added.
Separately, coast guards also rescued 29 asylum seekers on a dinghy in the Dikili district after they requested help.
They were later transferred to the provincial migration office.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers hoping to cross into Europe to start new lives, particularly for those fleeing wars and persecution. Earlier in December, the Turkish coast guard rescued a group of migrants, which included children, who were abandoned by Greek authorities in the Aegean Sea.
Turkey hosts nearly 4 million Syrians, more than any other country in the world. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, Turkey has hosted the largest refugee population in the world for the last five years.