Turkish coastguard stops 350 refugees heading for Lisbos

Turkish coastguard stop five boats carrying refugees majority of them escaping from danger, poverty in Myanmar, heading for Greek island Lisbos

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Refugees wait at a Turkish coastguard station at the Dikili district in Izmir, on March 20, 2016, after they were caught while trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos from the Bademli village.

Turkish coastguard on Sunday stopped five boats carrying some 350 refugees, mostly from Myanmar, who were trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos, local media reported.

A coastguard vessel reportedly spotted the boats about four miles off the shore of Dikili town in Izmir province as they tried to reach Lesbos.

The coastguard stopped the boats and took the refugees back to shore where they were handed over to the police.

"There is a planned massacre against Muslims in the country we live," one of the refugees said, explaining the reasons forced them to leave, -oppression, fear of live and poverty.

His remarks suggested they were members of Myanmar's Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim minority which has been targeted by violent attacks and state-sanctioned discrimination in the Buddhist-majority state, earning them a reputation as one of the world's most persecuted peoples.

The number of people reaching Greece from Turkey have declined since an EU-Turkey deal went into effect on March 20 under which all refugees landing on the Greek islands face being sent back.

Before the deal, the numbers arriving each day had numbered in the thousands. On Monday, 1,662 people arrived, but this fell to 600 on Tuesday and 260 on Wednesday.