Washington Post Claims: “A Turkish Firm Has Been Selling Fake Life Vests — They Soak up Water — for Refugees at Sea”


Fact Test - Fact

The claim(s):

The claims that a Turkish firm manufactured fake life jackets specifically for the use of refugees crossing the Mediterranean were reported in a widely-shared article from the Washington Post, which is still circulating on social media.

The truth:

The story of fake life jackets being ceased in Turkey was widely reported in the media in early January of 2016, and largely comes from a report by the Hurryiet Daily News, a Turkish news website which quoted a report from another Turkish source, Dogan News Agency, which itself quoted a Turkish life jacket manufacturer, Sait Güderoğlu:

“Speaking to Doğan News Agency, Sait Güderoğlu, one of Turkey’s top two life vest producers, warned of the dangers of low-quality life vests.

‘100 Newton life jackets are considered the original life vests. They can keep a person afloat for up to 12 hours, even if the person is unconscious,’ he said, adding that the life vests being given to refugees in İzmir are hardly able to keep a child buoyant.

‘Such life jackets are made of backpack material and filled with sponge. Because sponge is hydrophilic, it drags people down and causes them to drown,’ Güderoğlu said.”

In addition to this, the BBC reported that Turkish police raided a workshop in the Turkish port town of Izmir—a popular departure point for migrants—and confiscated more than a thousand of these life jackets.

It is on this basis that this claim is rated as true.

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