ATHENS, Greece -- Greece’s coast guard on Monday said it had prevented more than a thousand migrants and refugees crossing to its islands in boats from the nearby coast of Turkey over the past three days.
The agency said it had turned back boats in 24 separate incidents involving an estimated 1,130 people, near five Greek eastern Aegean Sea islands, with most of the interceptions occurring off Lesbos.
Greece has toughened its migration policy in recent years, defending its decision to carry out regular interceptions of boats at sea ‒ a practice human rights groups argue undermines the right of refugees fleeing danger to seek international protection.
Athens argues that most of the people heading for its shores are not at any risk in Turkey.
Greece is also backing an initiative by Spain, which is hosting a NATO summit in Madrid this week, to deepen Europe’s engagement with countries in the Middle East and north Africa to try and limit migration.