The small, economically depressed town of Pirmasens saw more than 1,000 refugees move into its many empty apartments. But opposition politicians argue that only looking at one town's plight is not enough.
The town of Pirmasens will not have to take in any more refugees, the Interior Ministry of the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate said on Wednesday. The move came after a meeting of the state government and community leaders, who have been saying for months that their town's economic situation was too precarious to expend resources on integrating accepted asylum-seekers.
"We are ready to provide short-term help to Pirmasens, as the town is in a special situation," said state Integration Minister Anne Spiegel.
Mayor Berhard Mathies told French news agency AFP that he welcomed the move, thanking the state government "for giving us a breather."
After World War II, Pirmasens found itself near several US army stations. When the soldiers left in the 1970s, many jobs in the city were lost and its number of inhabitants dropped dramatically
Refugees were not sent to Pirmasens for any particular work or social reasons but because it had a large number of empty apartments. The town's troubled economic situation, which was among the reasons for the empty apartments, made providing refugees the services they need difficult.
The town of about 40,000 took in about 1,300 refugees, most of whom have had their applications for asylum accepted by Germany. Mathies said he began to notice "alarm signals" in the past year that the city's volunteers and teachers really needed help dealing with the number of refugees in town.
Minister Spiegel said that Pirmasens was a "special case," but several towns across Germany have successfully appealed to have the influx of refugees stopped.
Opposition politicians in the state legislature accused Spiegel of being half-hearted in her assistance to struggling Pirmasens and demanded that a state-wide survey be conducted to make sure other towns were not similarly suffering.
es/sms (AFP, KNA)