The east German town of Tröglitz has received its first refugees, two months after an arson attack at a hostel originally slated to house the new arrivals. Anti-migrant protests in the town have drawn global attention.
The three families moved into two flats in the town of Tröglitz in Germany's eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, district administrator Götz Ulrich said Wednesday.
The community of around 2,700 residents was expected to take in 40 refugees by the end of May. But authorities were forced to put the plan on hold when the building that was supposed to house the migrants was targeted in an apparent arson attack on April 4. Police are still searching for the perpetrators.
Even before the blaze, the small town had made international headlines after a number of residents and members of the far-right NPD (National Democratic Party of Germany) organized protests against the planned asylum seeker home. In March, the mayor of Tröglitz, Markus Nierth, stepped down after receiving threats from the NPD during marches staged outside his house.
At the time, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said "the events in Tröglitz are a disgrace," and voiced concerns that Germany's reputation could be damaged overseas.
The fire in Tröglitz is just one of many recent instances of refugee accommodation being targeted across the country. Over the past six months there have been arson attacks on planned homes in the northern German town of Escheburg, at Limburgerhof in the west, and at Vorra in the southern state of Bavaria.
The fire in Tröglitz caused severe damage to the home's structure, and authorities estimate renovations could take several months. In the meantime, they're seeking to settle asylum seekers in empty housing or private homes.
Wars in Syria and Iraq have displaced scores of people, and many European countries are scrambling to receive growing numbers of refugees. Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has said it expects to receive some 400,000 new asylum applications in 2015 - twice as many as last year.
nm/msh (dpa, AFP)