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BKA: Attacks on refugee homes as high as ever

Kate Brady
April 28, 2016

Despite decreasing numbers of refugees in Germany, the number of crimes on refugee accommodation shows no sign of waning. One of the German Criminal Police Office's (BKA) main fears is an attack by a lone wolf.

Burt roof of asylum seeker shelter
Image: Getty Images/S. Gallup

According to a report from the BKA, the first quarter of 2016 saw 347 crimes linked to refugee accommodation. Among the offenses were three attempted homicides, 37 arson attacks and 23 injuries. The whole of 2015 saw a total of 1,031 such crimes.

The figures - which were requested by police from Germany's 16 states and published by German public broadcasters WDR and NDR, and the Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday - are preliminary and represent the so-called "police input statistics." To date, investigating authorities estimate that some 319 of the attacks on refugee homes were "right-wing motivated."

"Given the close ideological ties of the 'abuse of asylum debate' with the classic right-wing agitation field of 'xenophobia,' it's assumed that asylum seekers are increasingly among the targets of any violent crime," the report said, warning that the violent crimes could also result in deaths.

Right-wing links

For the first time, the situation includes figures on attacks on refugees, aid workers and so-called elected representatives. As a result, the report found that in the first three months of 2016 there were 73 violent right-wing crimes committed against refugees, including a sexual assault.

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More 368 right-wing offenses, related to vandalism, the spread of propaganda, and hate speech, were also recorded, as well as an increasing number of attacks on volunteers, politicians and journalists. Eighty-eight such offenses targeted politicians or political leaders in 2016. Among the 33 cases of volunteers being targeted by right-wing violence, two were recorded as being injured.

Concerns over radical groups

Although the BKA hasn't detected a Germany-wide organized structure, investigators said the founding of right-leaning terrorist or criminal groups must be reckoned with. This was proven, the report said, not only in the sharp increase in hospital admissions as a result of violent, right-wing crime, but also due to "a high crime density in each region, the number of classified instigator and relevant persons, the availability of weapons or explosives and ever-increasing verbal radical rhetoric."

The report released on Thursday also provides details on the suspects. Of the 551 people charged with right-wing-motivated crime, just 25 percent were convicted and only three people classified by state constitution protection agencies as "relevant persons."

The BKA's report confirms a trend reflected in figures published by the Antonio Amadeu Foundation and ProAsyl this year:

Map showing xenophobic attacks on refugees in 2016

Fears of 'lone wolf' attacks

Earlier in April, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the last quarter had seen a decline in the number of refugees arriving in Germany. Between December 2015 and March 2016, the number of monthly arrivals decreased significantly from around 120,000 to 20,608.

However, despite the falling numbers of refugees, Thursday's report found that there is no end in sight for agitation of Germany's right-wing scene. On the contrary, hate-fueled, violent offenses against the person are being promoted as part of the right's "climate of fear." The report also noted that, compared to 2014, the proportion of female suspects has also doubled.

One of the main fears of the BKA is the threat from a "resolute, irrational acting, fanatical lone wolf," who has no connection to an extremist groups. Police have yet to develop investigative approaches and prevention strategies to avoid cases such as the stabbing of Cologne mayor Henriette Reker last October.

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