Turkish Coast Guards have rescued a total of 468 asylum seekers who were illegally pushed back by the Greek side into Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, according to official figures.
According to the Turkish Coast Guard Command, between 1 January and 24 March, at least four asylum seekers lost their lives trying to cross the Aegean.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Greece has tried to illegally push asylum seekers who seek to land on its shores back into Turkish territorial waters since February.
Some 468 asylum seekers pushed back by Greece between 24 February and 24 March were rescued, while 1,975 asylum seekers have been rescued so far in 2021.
Moreover, nine people were caught on suspicion of organising illegal crossings.
Turkey and 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 migrants, including women and children.
So far this year, 808 asylum seekers were caught on land by gendarmerie and police units before reaching the sea, while 11 suspects who allegedly organised crossings were detained.