Brawls Erupt at Refugee Shelters

Police make several arrests at Berlin facility
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2015 7:00 PM CST
Migrants stand outside an emergency refugee shelter at a sports hall in Berlin on Oct. 23, 2015.   (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
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(Newser) – Cops responded to two brawls at refugee centers in Berlin on Sunday—one so big that more than 100 officers arrived at the scene, the Guardian reports. Several arrests were made at the former Tempelhof airport, where "many hundreds of people [were] involved," according to a police spokesman. Michael Elias, who runs the shelter, says 20 or 30 people started the ruckus in the crowded space; AFP reports that it erupted amid food distribution lineups. "It's the simple fact that there are a lot of young men traveling alone here," says Elias. "We withdrew … because the situation simply exploded. It was a complete blow-out." Per Elias, 830 people currently reside at the shelter; AFP says it can accommodate 1,200.

Police also responded to another Berlin shelter after 500 people fled fighting inside the building "in fear and panic," AFP says. Several residents were hurt, fire extinguishers used, sofas tossed, and windows smashed in the brawl, according to police. Smaller fights broke out in two other shelters—one between Syrians in the showers at a facility in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. Fights have erupted in other shelters before, and authorities have been accused of "playing down" allegations of sexual assault and rape in order to avoid reprisals against refugees, the Guardian reports. Yet such reports aren't too common considering how many refugees Germany expects to allow in: a million people in 2015 alone. (Read more refugees stories.)

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