Mustafa Oğuz / Izmir, July 31 () - Police in Izmir have collected substandard life vests from Syrian migrants, who buy them prior to their attempts to cross the Aegean Sea to Greece.
Police carried out a life vest-collection operation in İzmir’s Basmane neighborhood, which is a common staging point for Syrian migrants as they await a chance to escape to Europe.
Migrants frequently purchase life vests, which are mostly low-priced, produced under-the-counter and black in order to help the refugees stay unnoticed by coast guards.
Police collected around 300 substandard life vests from Syrian migrants, while also warning them of the hazards of the poor-quality life vests, which instead of saving lives risk people’s lives even more.
Police, who raided the hot spots for illegal migrants, checked the IDs of Syrians who were lying on the streets, green areas, parks and collected their poor-quality life vests, which they typically carry in black garbage bags along with their other possessions. Syrian migrants who did not have an ID with them were taken to the police station for an ID check.
The police also confiscated substandard life vests that are produced secretly from the shops that sell the illegal life-vests.
Instead of keeping people buoyant, the poor-quality life vests cause people to sink because they are made of sponge, said Sait Güderoğlu, one of Turkey’s top two life vest producers.
“Such life jackets are made of backpack material and filled with sponge and because sponge is hydrophilic, it drags people down and causes them to drown,” Güderoğlu said.
The number of refugees who have arrived in Greece over the first five months of 2015 reached 42,000, while the total number for 2014 was almost 43,500. An estimated 600 migrants cross to Greece via Turkey every day, according to U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR).