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You’ve undoubtedly seen photographs of refugees struggling to make it through the water and away from the terror in their homeland. And in every one of those images, you’ve seen the orange life vests both adults and children cling to in order to survive.
But in the unstable and unpredictable waters of the Aegean Sea, where a life vest could mean the difference between life and death, one Turkish firm was caught selling fake life vests to desperate refugees. Instead of helping these women and children stay afloat, the fake Turkish ‘death vests’ soak up water and weigh down those struggling to survive.
Nearly 1,200 refugees bought life vests manufacture red in Izmir, Turkey under a false promise. The vests are fake. The material collects water and would cause anyone wearing the vest to sink.
Learn more about this horrible incident and what’s being done about it below!
After the truth about the life vests was discovered, the police raided the workshop in Izmir. This city is a often departure point for refugees seeking asylum in Europe. The police found the workers stuffing the life vests with packaging materials instead of buoyancy aids – effectively giving desperate refugees a death sentence if they fall into the water.
50 percent of the workers caught working for the fraudulent company were Syrian girls.
More than 1 million refugees traveled across the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 alone. Most of these people were fleeing Syria. The sea voyage is extremely dangerous even with working life vests.
Because people go where they know other people, Syrians collect in Izmir before taking the perilous journey across the sea to find freedom in a new land. While looking for passage on a smuggling boat, the refugees find ways to pay for the journey and often sleep on the street.
They work when they can and eat if and when they can. And they are always waiting for the smugglers’ often nighttime call: “We’re leaving now.”
Smugglers don’t care about the welfare of their passengers, so they don’t provide life jackets. If parents and families want to keep their own safe, they must purchase life vests themselves. A life vest can cost up to $150. Bu the fraudulent vests cost about $15, but offer almost no hope of working.
But many migrants have almost no money and are desperate to grasp at any semblance of protection, although they probably know the life vests are fraudulent. They just want their children to feel safer.
A representative from one of Turkey’s top life vest producers, Sait Guderoglu, said these fake vests can be more dangerous than not wearing any vest.
“Such life jackets are made of backpack material and filled with sponge and because sponge is hydrophilic [water absorbing], it drags people down and causes them to drown,” he said.
The vests are stuffed with material that soaks up water and would make the person fighting for their life less agile. Imagine wearing a weighted vest while struggling to swim.
In 2015, more than 3,700 people perished in the crossing of the Mediterranean.
In the video below, see the fake life vests and learn more about the tragic situation facing these Syrian refugees as they struggle to find a better life for their families.
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