Sad Fact of Syrian Life: Spike in Swimming Lessons

Pool owners in Jordan say future refugees are signing up
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2016 9:01 AM CST
Sad Fact of Syrian Life: Spike in Swimming Lessons
In this 2015 file photo, Syrian refugees arrive on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos aboard a fishing boat.   (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)

A report in the Syrian Observer illustrates how bleak things are for people hoping to start new lives elsewhere: They're signing up for swimming lessons ahead of the dangerous boat trip. The dispatch collects anecdotal evidence from the operators of three separate sports clubs in Jordan, all of whom say Syrians there are signing up in droves. "Usually we close the pool during winter, but considering that so many have registered for swimming lessons, and that most of them are Syrian refugees, we kept the classes open," says one. Another says that whole families were asking for help. "The father would come with the sons, and the mother would come with the daughters," he says. "We also had a few elderly people."

Adds a young man taking lessons: "It never occurred to me that one day I might think of putting my life in danger, but two reasons encouraged me to take this step. First, many have survived, and second, the life I live now is like death, because it has no future." The Observer collects and translates posts from different sides of the conflict, notes the Independent, and this one comes from an opposition group. But the risks associated with fleeing via boat are clear: The UN estimated last August that 6,000 people had died or gone missing since 2014 while trying to cross the Mediterranean. (One artist turned the refugees' discarded life jackets into a statement.)

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