At the end of this week, the Pamplona City Council reported that it had started supporting a new initiative of the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR).
The project aims to help migrants and refugees who had arrived in the country (usually illicitly) on boats to learn to swim. Such trips had been traumatic for many of the people undertaking them in search of a better life in Europe and, as a result, they may have a traumatic experience with large bodies of water.
Many of these people did not know how to swim yet still risked their lives by getting on the traffickers’ boats.
The NGO Caminando Fronteras estimates that a total of 2,087 migrants have died or disappeared on their sea route between Africa and Spain in the first half of 2021 alone.
For those who made it through, however, there can be a lifetime of emotional scars.
The objective is for them to normalise their relationship with water after having lived hard experiences in the migratory process. The program originated from the moment when CEAR technical staff discovered that a group of refugees regularly attended sports facilities but, despite the fact that most had purchased 6-month passes, many of them only used the gym, without ever approaching the pool.
Bearing this in mind, CEAR raised the option for these people to receive swimming lessons in August within the municipal program that the Pamplona City Council implements together with the Navarre Swimming Federation.
CEAR has been working since 1979 for refugees, stateless persons and migrants in vulnerable situations so that their rights are recognised and respected.
In its reception centres, it offers accommodation, psychological and legal care to refugees and supports their social and labour integration. Currently, it helps 150 people in the region of Navarre.
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