A Turkish coast guard vessel picks up a migrant boat in the Aegean Sea | Photo: Picture-alliance/AA/B.Akay
Human rights activists have expressed concerns that a number of Palestinian refugees might have gone missing over recent days as the Turkish coast guard rescued 87 irregular migrants who were pushed back by Greek coast guard after they attempted to disembark on a Greek island.
Turkish news outlets said 71 migrants boarding three rubber boats were rescued off Mugla seashore. Another 16 migrants were also found and rescued off Marmaris waters after they were pushed back by Greek coast guard.
Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants seeking to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Turkey earlier this year opened its gates for irregular migrants wanting to cross to Europe, accusing the European Union of failing to keep its promises under a 2016 migrant deal.
Greece's response to those trying to enter the country without prior authorization has been harsh, with a number of migrants having been killed by Greek security forces along the land border with Turkey. Many others have been battered and teargassed.
Ankara already hosts over 3.5 million migrants from Syria, more than any other country in the world, and says it cannot handle another wave.
So far this year, Turkey's Coast Guard Command has rescued hundreds of migrants and asylum-seekers, including Palestinian refugees, off the Aegean coast after they were forced by Greece into Turkish territorial waters.