Turkey’s Coast Guard Command carried out seven operations to rescue the asylum seekers after they were dumped into the Turkish territorial waters by Greek authorities near the island of Lesbos.

The refugees were rescued from rubber boats off Izmir, Balikesir and Canakkale provinces, Turkey's Coast Guard Command said..
The refugees were rescued from rubber boats off Izmir, Balikesir and Canakkale provinces, Turkey's Coast Guard Command said.. (AA)

A total of 231 asylum seekers have been rescued in the Aegean Sea in seven operations after they were pushed back by Greece into Turkish territorial waters, Turkey’s Coast Guard Command said.

The command said on Friday that the Greek Coast Guard dumped asylum seekers into the water near the island of Lesbos between 3.30 a.m. (0030GMT) and 12.33 p.m. (0933GMT) local time.

They were saved from rubber boats off Izmir, Balikesir and Canakkale provinces, it added.

READ MORE: Turkey accuses Greece of leaving migrants for dead in Aegean Sea

Illegal pushbacks

Turkey hosts more than three million refugees and migrants, many from neighbouring Syria, while tens of thousands are waiting in Greece for asylum applications to be processed, mostly in camps where conditions have been described as dire. 

Turkey and international human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable people, including women and children.

A probe into allegations of illegal migrant pushbacks on the Greece-Turkey maritime border concluded last month that the EU's border agency Frontex needed to make "urgent improvements" in its transparency.

The final report said poor reporting practices meant that investigators could not clearly determine if pushbacks had occurred in five of the cases under review.

Pushbacks prevent asylum-seekers from making claims for protected status, and if practised indiscriminately can constitute a violation of core EU human rights laws and the 1951 Geneva Convention.

READ MORE: EU-Turkey refugee deal: Five years on

Source: AA