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Violence against refugees rising in Germany

Attacks against asylum seeker housing, including arson attacks, are on the rise, the German newspaper Die Welt reports. Advocates say they are alarmed by the trend.

Official crime statistics from the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) show that violent crime against refugees and asylum seekers has risen significantly in recent months, Die Welt reported Wednesday.

At least 104 violent attacks against asylum centers have been recorded, including 53 acts of arson, official statistics show. By contrast, only 28 violent attacks were recorded last year.

"We are witnessing the worst wave of racist and right-wing violence in 20 years," said Ulrich Lilie, president of Diakonie, one of the largest Christian charities in Germany, which operates asylum seeker housing.

Refugee advocates say they are frustrated with the low rate of prosecution of perpetrators of arson attacks.

"A consistent, fast and successful prosecution can help to prevent further escalation of violence," Lilie said.

Violence hasn't been the only concern. Since January, over 630 criminal acts against asylum housing have been recorded, include property damage, incitement and propaganda crimes.

'Like the 1990s'

Dresden - Pegida-Anhänger versammeln sich zum Jahrestag

The PEGIDA movement, which has been feeding on anxiety over increasing immigration, is gathering momentum in parts of Germany, as seen at this October 19 rally by supporters in Dresden

EXIT, an activist group that campaigns against right-wing extremism, said Germany hasn't seen such levels of xenophobia since the 1990s as the country was struggling with reunification.

"We had such a situation in the spring of ‘91," EXIT founder Bernd Wagner told Die Welt.

The German government says it projects that 800,000 refugees will arrive by the end of the year. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be meeting leaders from 16 European nations in Berlin this week to discuss practical steps in responding to the crisis.

jar/kms (AFP, KNA)

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