Following racist attacks, German town accepts first refugees

Refugee families attend press conference after moving into asylum centre in eastern Germany

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Troeglitz town nearby the city of Naumburg in eastern Germany has officially accepted its first group of refugee families from Afghanistan and India on June 11 who moved into apartments at the asylum centre where a building was torched two months ago.

The arson attack on the building followed weeks-long protests by far-right demonstrators who opposed to the idea of housing around 40 asylum seekers.

Local officials stressed that the region welcomes foreigners, despite the attack and anti-immigration rallies.

The three young families initially moved into the apartments in the town of Troeglitz in Saxony-Anhalt, which is home to 2,700 people, on June 9.

The attack on the asylum centre was allegedly believed to be driven by racist and xenophobic ideologies.

Families who applied for political asylum in Germany are people who have fled conflict, war and poverty stricken countries and arrived in Europe to seek refugee.

In 2014, Germany took in 200,000 asylum seekers and is expected to take in as many as 450,000 this year.

The asylum seeker centre was a major debate in the region which even resulted in Markus Nierth, the city’s former mayor, resigning in March.

Nierth justified his resignation by saying that he did not receive any support from local authorities when racist thugs protested outside his residential home against the opening of the shelter.

According to AFP, Goetz Ulrich - the district councilor - specifically asked for a press conference for the event of the settling of the first refugee group into the shelter in order to send “a clear political signal.”

Ulrich said that the town would house a total of 40 refugees and that he is glad that months of hard work has paid off “even if some people see things differently.”

“I am very glad that, after these difficult weeks and months, we have come this far,” he said.

The district councilor also mentioned his frustration with the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida) movement and said that refugees come bearing the gifts of “friendliness and warmth” due to wanting to accomplish something.

"They deserve a chance," he said during the press conference.

Pegida, an anti-Islam and anti-immigration group established late last year, is seen as a racist and borderline fascist group by many in Europe and had drawn criticism from significant political figures, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

TRTWorld and agencies