A planned hosting centre for refugees in Germany has been the target of an arson attack in the latest sign of tensions as thousands of migrants arrive in the country.
The sports hall in Wertheim, in the south western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, was due to host 400 migrants, mostly Syrian refugees. However it was set on fire and is now in danger of collapse, according to reports. Police in nearby Heilbronn said that nobody was inside the building at the time of the incident but fire damage has prevented it from hosting refugees.
While the majority of Germans have welcomed the refugees, opposition to the influx has also been present in the country, especially in the formerly Communist and less wealthy east. Police were forced to set up a security zone around a hostel in the eastern German state of Saxony to protect refugees from right-wing rioters, who have tried to block the way to the shelter in the town of Bischofswerda, inhabited by 11,500 people.
Last Thursday (17 September), around 100 right-wing protesters threw bottles and shouted racist comments at a bus arriving with refugees. Local media also reported that two garbage cans were set on fire in front of a hostel in Riedel, Baden-Wuerttemberg, hosting 47 Syrians. Swastikas were daubed on the walls, according to Charles Hawley of Der Spiegel Online.
German chancellor Angela Merkel is pledging to do everything in her power to solve the migrant crisis in Europe, by proposing a redistribution of refugees by consensus. EU leaders will meet in a summit on Wednesday to discuss migrant quotas, a measure that is opposed by Eastern European nations.
"It's worth every effort to do everything to be able to decide by consensus among the 28 member states, rather than by qualified majority, on important questions such as the distribution of refugees," Merkel said.
Germany is a prime destination for migrants, and it expects at least 800,000 to arrive this year.
A senior member in Merkel's conservative sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), has spoken out in favour of tighter rules on granting asylum to migrants..
"Those who are not in danger should leave Germany as quickly as possible," Gerda Hasselfeldt told the Welt newspaper.
"We have to set clear priorities. We need our energy and resources for those who are fleeing war and persecution."