More than 3,500 refugees were attacked last year in Germany, according to a report by the Interior Ministry, in a wave of hate crimes that raises concerns over the safety of migrants and war refugees.
More than 2,500 attacks targeted refugees outside their housing while 988 attacks, including arson and vandalism, occurred on the shelters for asylum seekers.
A total of 560 people, out of which 43 were children, were injured in the hate crime attacks.
In addition to this, 217 refugee organizations and volunteers were also targeted, according to the ministry.
So in essence, asylum seekers and their advocates faced an average of 10 attacks per day in Germany in 2016.
The numbers are alarming and mark a huge rise in xenophobic attitudes in the country. An Amnesty International report last June stated there were 1,013 crimes committed against asylum shelters and 1,300 crimes against religious and racial minorities in Germany in 2015.
In its statement, the interior ministry said it strongly condemned the violence.
“People who have fled their home country and seek protection in Germany have the right to expect safe shelter,” the statement read.
Ulla Jelpke, an MP for the socialist party, Die Linke, stated the government is too focused on blaming migrants for security threats even though the far right poses more danger to the country.
“We're seeing nearly 10 [criminal] acts a day,” she told the Funke Mediengruppe, a German regional newspaper group. “Do people have to die before the right-wing violence is considered a central domestic security problem and makes it to the top of the national policy agenda?”
"Nazis are threatening refugees and therefore our democracy," she added.
As the BBC noted, 280,000 refugees arrived in Germany in 2016, a number that was considerably less than the 600,000 who came in 2015, primarily due to border closure of Balkan states and the EU deal with Turkey.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to open up borders to welcome people from war-torn areas has divided the country in two and in the process, fueled support for the far-right party, Alternative for Germany.
Merkel, who is going to run for her fourth term as chancellor, is going to face tough challenges due to concerns about integration of migrants as well as the increased fear of terrorism the influx raised.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Heinz-Peter Bader