The French government has suspended its honorary consul in Turkey’s coastal resort city of Bodrum after she was caught on camera saying the store she runs sells inflatable rafts used by would-be migrants.
France 2 television aired footage from a hidden camera on Friday showing the woman, with her face blurred, acknowledging that selling the rafts was tantamount to France’s honorary consul helping fuel human trafficking.
“(Foreign Minister) Laurent Fabius has ordered that the honorary consul of Bodrum be suspended on account of the seriousness of the activities that were attributed to her,” ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said on his Twitter account.
France’s honorary consuls are allowed to have a paid job in addition to representing the country in secondary cities as volunteers, according to the ministry.
“If we stop selling (the rafts), then the store next door will, the one behind will. It won’t change anything,” she said, adding that local authorities and the port captain were aiding human trafficking by letting it happen. “We are at fault.”
Hundreds of migrants and refugees, many fleeing the war in Syria, make the short crossing every day from Turkey to reach EU territory on Greece’s eastern islands, including Kos and Lesbos.
The International Organization for Migration said on Friday an estimated 309,356 people had arrived by sea in Greece so far this year.
President Francois Hollande said on Monday that France was prepared to take in an additional 24,000 refugees over the next two years as part of a broader EU plan to accept asylum seekers.