Dutch police arrest three after tension at refugee center

Dutch police interferes refugee center fight at city of Arnhem

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Refugees in the Swiss Army Camp Glaubenberg in Switzerland December 3, 2015

Dutch police have arrested three people after a brawl broke out in a refugee centre in the city of Arnhem late Saturday, leaving four wounded.

The four people were only slightly injured, police said in a tweet early Sunday, adding calm had been restored and they were investigating.

About 15 to 20 people were involved in the fight, and their nationality was not known, the Dutch news agency ANP said.

Arnhem, in the eastern Netherlands, is just one of the places where tens of thousands of refugees are being housed as their request for asylum is processed.

The Netherlands took in a record 54,000 refugees in the first 11 months of 2015 fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, as Europe grapples with its worst refugee crisis since World War II.

But Dutch opinion has been sharply divided over how to deal with the crisis, and how to accommodate the flow of refugees.

Tensions have at times spilled over into violence in local and national debates about the issue.

Earlier this month, police fired warning shots to break up a riot in the central village of Geldermalsen, which erupted over plans to open a refugee centre for some 1,500 refugees.

In a Christmas Day message, Dutch King Willem-Alexander called on his people to stand by those in need and not to let fear about their future overwhelm them.

"Of course we want to protect what is dear to us. We can't stop or deny feelings of fear. But we mustn't hand it (fear) the reins of our life and allow it to dominate our society," the king warned.

The Dutch people "cannot crawl back into our shell" but need courage and dignity to work together "in turbulent times" and to show "solidarity with those who really need our help."