Riot Breaks Out at Overcrowded Refugee Camp in Germany After Resident Tore Pages out of the Koran and Threw Them in the Toilet
Thomas Burrows and Jay Akbar, Daily Mail, August 20, 2015
At least 17 people were injured at an overcrowded German refugee shelter after one resident tore pages out of a Koran.
Around 20 refugees chased the Afghan man who damaged the Muslim Holy Book and threw the discarded pages into the toilet.
He was eventually saved by the shelter’s guards which prompted the mob–according to local media mainly Syrian men–to turn their anger on the camp’s security team.
More than 50 men armed themselves with steel rods and began throwing rocks at guards and policemen.
It comes amid high tensions in Germany as the country prepares to host 800,000 asylum seekers this year.
In the violence today, migrants smashed car windows, ransacked buildings and demolished the walls which divide the shelter in the rampage which lasted several hours.
The refugee camp in Suhl, Thuringia, was built to house around 1,200 people but is currently home to more than 1,700.
Germany is struggling to deal with the massive influx of asylum seekers from war zones such as Syria, as well as migrants from countries not at war.
The sudden surge has forced German authorities to house migrants in schools and tents which have been transformed into make-shift shelters.
Local officials have repeatedly raised concerns about overcrowding, saying they were unable to cope with the accelerating demand.
The state premier for Thuringia, in central Germany, believes different ethnic groups should be separated in refugee homes to prevent such violence erupting again.
Bodo Ramelow also told public broadcaster MDR how the authorities are suffering from the lack of shelters, adding: ‘We need to expand our capacity urgently.’
Europe’s biggest economy has become the top destination for those fleeing war and persecution.
Berlin now expects to receive 800,000 asylum seekers this year–four times more than in 2014.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere is due to meet his French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve later Thursday in Berlin to discuss Europe’s biggest migrant crisis since the Second World War.
In other developments today, Macedonia declared a state of emergency on its borders over the recent surge of migrants and said it would involve the army to tackle the crisis.
A column of riot police armed with tear gas and armoured vehicles have shut off the passage at the border town of Gevgelija to several thousand people.
‘No more Macedonia’, one officer said in English to a Syrian man trying to enter the country.
The shutdown came after days of desperate scenes at the local railway station as thousands tried to board trains to Serbia, with young children being passed through open carriage windows.
Interior Ministry spokesman Ivo Kotevski said: ‘We cannot hermetically close the borders. But we will try to reduce illegal border entry to a minimum.’
He added: ‘We expect the involvement of the army will bring two desired effects–it will increase security among our citizens in the two regions and will allow for a more comprehensive approach toward people expressing their interest in applying for asylum.’
Elsewhere today, a ferry carrying more than 2,400 Syrian refugees arrived in the Greek port city of Piraeus near Athens.
The ferry was chartered in response to worsening conditions on the island of Kos, where small boats have been arriving every day from the Turkish coast.
The authorities on Kos have struggled to cope with the surge in migrants. At one point up to 2,000 people were locked inside a stadium without water, as officials tried to register them.
Holidaymakers are now packing extra food and clothes in their luggage to distribute to migrants sleeping rough on the beach.
Greece has been largely unprepared to deal with the migrant crisis in recent weeks, prompting criticism from aid agencies.
The debt-ridden country has been overwhelmed by record numbers of refugees landing on its shores, with more than 160,000 arriving since January and 21,000 in the last week alone.
Many of the migrants arriving in Piraeus today planned to head almost immediately to the northern border via the second city of Thessaloniki and then onto other European countries, such as Macedonia and Germany.
To alleviate the migrant crisis in Calais, the UK and France today signed an agreement on a raft of new measures.
This includes a ‘control and command centre’ and a ‘financial contribution’ from the UK to pay for migrants to be processed and flown to their countries of origin.
Britain will pledge more than £7million over two years to ease the situation in Calais, in what the deal refers to as a ‘humanitarian crisis that is unprecedented in recent history’.
Around 5,000 migrants from countries such as Eritrea, Syria and Sudan are camped out in squalid conditions near the Coquelles Eurotunnel railhead.
Some have said the situation is so appalling they would prefer to die trying to escape it and sneak into Britain.
Meanwhile, a demonstration by migrants brought cars to a halt on a motorway today. The group chanted ‘we are not animals’ and ‘open the borders’.
Bulgaria has already taken extreme measures to halt the flow of migrants by erecting a security fence that will cover 160km of its border with Turkey.
In the past eight years since joining the EU, Bulgaria has spent €300m (£215m) of mostly EU money, reinforcing this border.
Another €100m is available to complete the job until 2020. Only €2m will be received for the better integration of refugees in the same period.
About 25,000 people have applied for refugee status in Bulgaria in the past two years, as many as in the previous two decades combined.
With its population of 7.2million, there are fears the country will be unable to sustain more migrants, even if most of them want to make it to richer countries such as Germany or Sweden.
In a similar vein, Hungary is racing to complete a fence along its 175km border with Serbia to keep the migrants out, threatening to create a bottleneck of tens of thousands.
To the north, Finland is set to receive up to 15,000 asylum seekers this year–four times higher than last year.