Fake Life Jackets

The bad weather in Lesvos this week has made the crossing even more dangerous than normal and I have been emotionally hit hard, all over again, by the stories of the people Dan has been helping off boats, and the news of more innocent deaths. 60 already this year, and we’re only halfway through Jan…

To reach Greece, refugees have to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey in inflatable dinghies. They pay about $1000 each to people smugglers to do so.

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This crossing costs 20 Euro and takes an hour and a half on the ferry.

From what I understand, the smugglers buy these rubber boats from China for about the same price as just one person’s crossing, then fill each one with about 60 refugees (well over the safe limit), finally jumping out of the boat last minute, leaving the refugees to steer the boats themselves.

Yet this huge money making machine is nowhere near as shocking to me as what else happens to the refugees when preparing to make this life or death crossing…

Before leaving Turkey, refugees are told they have to buy their own life jackets. It might seem like a responsible request, to make sure everyone is wearing a life jacket, but it’s not.

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These life jackets are not only fake, (as in, they don’t float), they are actually filled with water-absorbent foam. Yes, these refugees who, for the most part, can’t swim and are petrified and desperate, are sold life jackets that will make them drown more quickly.

OK deliberately and intentionally ripping people off and making shit loads of money from their desperation is one thing, but consciously, knowingly SELLING them something to speed up their death…well that, to me, is just beyond cruel.

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I wanted so badly not to believe it…

…So I thought I’d test out the life jacket Dan had brought me back from Lesvos in his backpack. I filled the bath, chucked it in there and it floated. OK I thought, maybe the reports, the stories are wrong, maybe there isn’t really such insane mercilessness in this world, until I picked up the jacket and felt the weight. It had become insanely heavy, and the shallow bath, considerably more shallow. Sure enough, it had soaked up A LOT of water.

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Still, I want it to not be true, I want to go to a swimming pool, to try it properly, but deep down I know I don’t need to, deep down I am beginning to realise the true injustice of it all.

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