Turkey will deploy 1,000 police officers to prevent Greece to push migrants back to Turkey, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said Thursday.
Soylu told reporters that the EU border protection agency Frontex and Greece pushed 4,900 migrants back to Turkey since March 1.
Some 164 migrants were injured in the process, according to Soylu.
Soylu also said the authorities were trying to prevent migrants from crossing through the Aegean Sea to prevent a humanitarian crisis.
Nearly 140,000 migrants have left Turkish borders through Edirne for Europe since Friday, Soylu added.
Last week, Turkish authorities announced that they would no longer prevent the flow of migrants who wanted to reach Europe.
The decision was made after 36 Turkish soldiers were killed by Bashar Assad regime forces in Idlib in northwestern Syria. The Turkish soldiers were deployed to the region to protect local civilians under a 2018 deal with Russia under which acts of aggression are prohibited.
Greece’s response to irregular migrants and asylum seekers has been harsh, with many battered and tear-gassed, and at least two killed by Greek security forces. The Greek government on Sunday asked for the EU’s help to secure its borders and announced that it had stopped accepting asylum claims for a month due to the increased migratory pressure.
As a country with maritime and land borders shared with Bulgaria and Greece, Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives. Either fleeing poverty or prevailing conflicts, thousands arrive in Turkey every year to take their chance at illegally crossing into Europe.
Illegal migrants take the Aegean, Mediterranean and the Black Sea routes to access European countries. The Aegean is the most popular as it is dotted with Greek islands in close proximity to Turkish shores. Prior to their travel to Turkey’s Aegean shores, migrants typically enter Turkey from the country’s southern or eastern borders.