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  • A refugee prepares to hand over a toddler to a volunteer lifeguard as a half-sunken catamaran carrying around 150 refugees, most of them Syrians, arrives after crossing part of the Aegean sea from Turkey on the Greek island of Lesbos.

    A refugee prepares to hand over a toddler to a volunteer lifeguard as a half-sunken catamaran carrying around 150 refugees, most of them Syrians, arrives after crossing part of the Aegean sea from Turkey on the Greek island of Lesbos. | Photo: Reuters

Police raided the factory a day after authorities discovered more than 30 drowned refugees washed ashore wearing poorly made life jackets.

Turkish police raided a factory producing fake life jackets on Wednesday, with two of the four workers found to be underage Syrian girls.

The life jackets found in the Izmir factory were stuffed with sponge and suitcase fabric that absorb water and would cause the wearer to sink rather than float. Most Turkish media outlets reported that law enforcement seized 1,263 vests, but state media reported 263.

The day before the raid, more than 30 bodies washed ashore in a nearby district while wearing cheap life jackets. Authorities said the passengers were headed to the Greek island Lesbos and that the dead included at least three children. Safe life jackets can cost up to US$150 in Turkey, according to the BBC, 10 times the cost of cheap alternatives found on the streets of Izmir.

IN DEPTH: Refugee and Migrant Rights

Because of the exorbitant costs involved in migrating to Europe, many refugees opt to remain in Turkey to work and save money. However, Turkey has still not granted work permits to the 2.2 million Syrians living within its borders. Last year, an estimated 3,771 migrants and refugees died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea, according to the International Organization for Migration. Fake life jackets are cited as a primary cause for the deaths.

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