Turkey: Shops sell boat safety kit for refugees

Greek coastguards help refugees disembark from a rescue boat  Greek coastguards help refugees disembark from a rescue boat

Traders in the western Turkish coastal city of Izmir have started selling life vests and other vital equipment - apparently intended for refugees wanting to illegally cross the Aegean Sea to Greece.

The shops in the neighbourhood of Basmane - which has seen a large influx of people fleeing from Iraq, Somalia and Syria - are stocking the necessary equipment and local officials tell the Hurriyet daily newspaper that Izmir has become a "hub for migrants wanting to illegally cross into Greece". The paper reports that some 5,789 migrants have been caught by the Turkish coast guard in 2014 alone.

Many people attempt the dangerous sea journey from Turkey to Greece and accidents are frequent. In the latest incident, four people drowned when a boat carrying migrants from Eritrea and Afghanistan sank off the Turkish Aegean coast in July on its way to the Greek island of Lesbos. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that by the end of the year, Turkey will have to accommodate over 1.3 million refugees fleeing conflict zones in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.

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