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They Thought These Life Jackets Would Keep Them Safe, But The Opposite Happened

FEBRUARY 10, 2017  —  By Corinne Sanders

Over a million migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea in 2015, most of whom were Syrian refugees traveling from Turkey to Greece. Unfortunately, many of them didn't realize that their life jackets wouldn't stop them from drowning.

Now thousands of life jackets are currently piled on the Greek island of Lesbos as a heartbreaking reminder of the people who died in the water while fleeing their war-torn countries in attempts to reach Europe. Not only are tons of the jackets fake, but they're also stuffed with packaging or made of sponge, which absorbs water and causes the wearer to sink rather than float.

The pile sits just above the village of Molyvos, where residents brought blankets, dry clothes, and hot food to the refugees as they were coming out of the cold Aegean Sea. It is made up of at least 150,000 jackets, but according to Eric Kempson, who runs The Hope Project to aid the migrants arriving on boats, the pile used to be twice its size.

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"It brings back a lot of memories, a lot of screaming, a lot of shouting, a lot of crying - and the bodies," he said. "We lost a lot of people because of the life jackets."

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The life jackets were purchased in Turkish shops and cost much less than properly made jackets. For a lot of migrants, it was what they could afford.

According to the International Organization for Migration, over 3,700 people died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2015.

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Kempson says migrants are still attempting to reach Lesbos: "A lot people think it is over with, but it has never stopped." Many try to cross during the winter and risk suffering from frostbite and hypothermia.

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Read More: A Mom Waits For Her Son At The Airport, But The Truth Behind It Is Heartbreaking

According to Kempson, conditions in the island's refugee camps are miserable as well. Over 4,000 refugees are living in the Moria camp, where people reside in tents despite the freezing temperatures. Three have died of carbon monoxide poisoning from heaters they made to keep themselves warm in January.

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(via Daily Mail / The Washington Post)

If you'd like to help the refugees in Lesbos, you can donate to The Hope Project here. And be sure to share this story to raise awareness about the growing refugee crisis.

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