Europe

French honorary consul sold boats to migrants in Turkey

Fener Burnu Beach, the same beach where the lifeless body of Syrian boy Alan Kurdi, 3, when boats carrying migrants to the Greek island of Kos capsized last week near the Turkish resort of Bodrum, Turkey, 8 September 2015. Image copyright AP
Image caption The body of Alan Kurdi was found lying on a beach at Bodrum

France has suspended its honorary consul in the Turkish port of Bodrum after a TV report showed a shop she owns selling dinghies to migrants.

Footage secretly filmed by France 2 TV shows Francoise Olcay selling dinghies and life jackets to migrants hoping to reach the Greek islands.

The UN says 124,000 people reached Greece's shores by sea in the first seven months of 2015.

Ms Olcay said the items would be bought elsewhere if she did not sell them.

Admitting that she was taking part in the trade, she alleged that local Turkish authorities were also involved.

She said others would have taken her place if she stopped selling supplies to the migrants.

The BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris says that while honorary consuls are not members of the diplomatic corps, the news will be a big embarrassment to the French foreign ministry.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Dinghies are used by migrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean to reach Greece

The reporter on France 2 TV who uncovered the news had been investigating where migrants in Bodrum were purchasing their supplies.

His inquiries brought him to a large store, with a French flag flying outside and a sign at the entrance saying "French honorary consul".

Ms Olcay confirmed she was the consul, and that she sold boats to the migrants despite knowing it could lead to disaster.

She told the reporter that it was wrong but everyone was doing it.

Thousands of refugees have used Bodrum as a gateway to fulfil their dream of reaching Europe.

However, correspondents say the number of nightly departures appears to have slightly decreased after Turkish police stepped up patrols in the wake of the death of Alan Kurdi.

The body of the three-year-old was washed up at Bodrum last week, after he drowned along with his mother, four-year-old brother and nine other Syrians as they attempted to sail to the Greek island of Kos.

Images of the boy's body sparked international outrage and highlighted the dangers faced by migrants who make the crossing.

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