German Authorities Facing Dilemma After Mass Brawl in Refugee Camp

Refugees in Germany
Migrants sit on their beds at an improvised temporary shelter in a sports hall in Hanau, Germany, September 24. A brawl reportedly broke out at a refugee camp in central Germany on the weekend. Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

A mass brawl that erupted between hundreds of Albanians and Pakistanis at a tented refugee camp in Germany has highlighted the country's ongoing struggle over how to integrate its record influx of refugees. The fight occurred in the same week that the country's top spy chief warned about the growing radicalization of Germany's far-right.

On Sunday, a brawl broke out between two groups who used sticks and irritant sprays to fight each other, according to the BBC. It took several hours before police were able to stop the violence at the camp in Calden, near Kassel in central Germany.

Fourteen people were left injured, three of whom were police officers. It is unclear what prompted the violence, though one migrant group was moved out to separate accommodation after it had finished. The camp is estimated to house 1,500 migrants from 20 different countries.

The incident is the latest in a string of violent altercations to occur at Germany's refugee camps. The country expects to receive up to a million refugees this year, according to Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. Germany announced in August that it was suspending the EU's Dublin regulation, and would accept asylum applications from all Syrian refugees regardless of which European country they had entered first.

Another brawl involving up to 200 refugees erupted last week in a German refugee shelter in Leipzig, after a young Syrian girl was allegedly threatened with a knife by a teenage Afghan boy, the Daily Telegraph reported. Refugees fought each other with bars, table legs and bed frames and two female German Red Cross workers were left injured.

On Monday, Jrg Radek, the deputy head of Germany's police union, told German newspaper Die Welt that groups of migrants should be separated as a result of increasing numbers of attacks on Christians in refugee centres. He also warned that some refugee centres built to house hundreds were in fact housing thousands of refugees, leading to outbreaks of aggressive behaviour. "I think housing separated according to religion makes perfect sense," Radek said, adding, "The police have reached their absolute breaking point. Our officials are increasingly being called to confrontations in refugee homes."

Over the weekend, Germany's domestic spy chief, Hans-Georg Maassen warned that Germany is seeing greater radicalisation of right-wing groups in the country, linked to Germany's decision to accept record numbers of refugees. According to Maassen there has been a greater willingness to use violence by all extremist groups in Germany.

"What we're seeing in connection with the refugee crisis is a mobilization on the street of right-wing extremists, but also of some left-wing extremists," Maassen told Deutschlandfunk public radio, adding that 22 arson attacks against would-be or existing refugee shelters have taken place this year alone. There has also been violence against those who support housing refugeesin July, a local left-wing politician's car was blown up in the town of Freital, in what he said he believed was a politically motivated attack.

Earlier this year, a report published by Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, an agency of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, warned about the rise of both left-wing and right-wing violence in the country. It revealed that the number of attacks by right-wing extremists soared to 990 in 2014, marking a 23.6 percent increase from 2013, while the number of xenophobic attacks, which the report tallied at 512, reached its highest number ever.