Turkey seizes unsafe boats intended for refugees: reports

A German rescuer volunteer escorts with his vessel a dinghy with refugees and migrants as they arrive from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016.

A German rescuer volunteer escorts with his vessel a dinghy with refugees and migrants as they arrive from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016.


Turkish police seized almost 50 unsafe boats destined for migrants wanting to cross the Aegean Sea to Greece, in the latest crackdown on businesses exploiting refugees in western Turkey, reports said Saturday.

Police simultaneously raided three underground workshops in the port city of Izmir on Friday, seizing 49 boats that failed to meet safety standards, the official Anatolia news agency said.

The boats were destroyed by the police, it said, adding that the workshops now faced closure.

Turkey is home to at least 2.2 million refugees from Syria’s civil war.

Risky crossing

It has become a hub for migrants seeking to move to Europe, many of whom pay smugglers thousands of dollars for the risky crossing to Greece.

Ankara reached an agreement with the EU in November to stem the flow of refugees heading to Europe in return for financial assistance of $3.2 billion in cash.

After the deal, Turkey appears to have stepped up efforts, stopping boats, rounding up scores of suspected smugglers and seizing hundreds of sub-standard life jackets given to the refugees.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to visit Ankara on Monday to discuss implementation of the deal.


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