Turkish police have seized over 1,200 unsafe life jackets destined for use by migrants trying to reach Greece
by sea, in a raid on an underground workshop that used Syrian underage labor on Jan. 6.
The authorities seized 1,263 life jackets that failed to correspond to safety standards in the raid on the workshop in the center of İzmir, Doğan News Agency said.
İzmir is a major hub for refugees and migrants seeking to make the risky crossing in flimsy boats to EU member Greece, Agence France-Presse reported.
The fake life jackets seized were filled with “packaging” rather than the proper material needed to keep users alive for hours in the water.
Four people were found working in the workshop, including two young Syrian girls. The confiscated life jackets have been sent to local police for examination while an investigation has been launched.
Standard life-jackets cost 70 Turkish Liras while the seized jackets were sold for only 20 liras. However, they have caused an increase in the number of deaths among refugees because they lack buoyancy.
The news of the seizure comes a day after Turkish authorities announced that the bodies of 31 migrants had been found on its Aegean coast after their boats sank in bad weather while trying to cross to the Greek
island of Lesbos.
Namık Kemal Nazlı, Ayvalık’s district governor, said the death toll of the Jan. 5 incident was 31. The bodies of 23 migrants were found on the shores of Ayvalık’s Altınova neighborhood area while other eight bodies were found on the shores of Dikili on Jan. 5, according to information released by Nazlı on Jan. 6.
The incident took place as two inflatable boats sailed from Bahçeliköy Çayağzı and Salihleraltı, two neighborhoods in Dikili, heading to the Greek
island of Lesbos. One boat had 110 migrants while the other had around 55 migrants. Nazlı said the boat with the 55 migrants capsized, adding that they thought the other boat might have reached Lesbos.
He also said six Syrians, two Iraqis, and four Algerians who were in the same boat were rescued in Ayvalık. They were sent to gendarmerie forces for testimony.
Turkey, which is home to 2.2 million migrants from Syria’s civil war, has become a hub for migrants seeking to move to Europe, many of whom pay people smugglers thousands of dollars for the risky crossing.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Jan. 5 that 1,004,356 migrants and refugees reached Europe
in 2015 but 3,771 died while crossing the sea.