e Italy offers swimming lessons for refugees traumatized while crossing the Mediterranean

His swimming and rescue training aims to calm the trauma of a passage that has claimed the lives of at least 2,300 migrants and refugees this year.

.. And the Nautical Technical Institute in this gritty coastal city is trying to help emotionally scarred teenagers overcome their fear of the water in a region where most jobs are tied to the sea.

.. The program, which started in May, aims to teach basic first aid, and rescue and diving skills to the about two dozen teenage boys who live together in a dormitory at Basilica di Sant’Antonio in Messina. All of the boys are from sub-Saharan Africa. Some fled wars. Others are escaping poverty. All made the desolate journey through Libya, where many migrants are forced into labor, imprisoned and brutalized.

.. His mother is blind, he said, and he has no other family members. His plan is to become a professional soccer player in Italy and send money home.

 .. “People are racist here. If there’s a bench, and white people are sitting there, and you sit down, they’ll get up,” said Richard Amegah, 17, who made a 19-month journey from his native Ghana to Italy that started in 2014.
.. Unlike the largely Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees who streamed into Greece in 2015, many of the migrants on the Italian route are traveling northward for economic reasons.
.. This year, the principal sources of migrants have been Nigeria, Bangladesh, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Senegal and Mali, according to Italian Interior Ministry figures.
.. In the chaos, boys started falling off the slippery back of the boat. Among them was one of Hubert’s closest friends, Moussa, who drowned, he said.Now the lanky 17-year-old says he wants to become a lifesaver after fleeing his native Ivory Coast when he was 11 after rebels killed his parents.