Germany Says Attacks on Refugees Were ‘Alarmingly High’ in 2016

  • Merkel government cites ‘shimmer of hope’ in declining figures
  • Refugee crisis is election-year campaign issue for chancellor

A new shared shelter for refugees in Berlin, Germany, on Feb. 11, 2017.

Photographer: Paul Zinken/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said it’s alarmed by the number of attacks targeting refugees in Germany last year, though it cited a recent decline in violence as a hopeful sign.

German states recorded 3,533 assaults on refugees and shelters for asylum seekers in 2016, according to preliminary figures released by the Interior Ministry in response to a request by the opposition Left party. Attacks on refugee shelters declined to 988 from 1,031 in 2015, according to the data. At the same time, refugees were personally targeted 2,545 times in incidents ranging from shouted insults to beatings. No comparative data were provided for that number.

“These are alarmingly high numbers -- and a reason for concern,” Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth told reporters in Berlin on Monday. “But there is a small shimmer of hope in that we see a tendency toward receding numbers.”

Merkel has struggled since 2015 with Germany’s biggest refugee influx since World War II, which has undermined her domestic standing as she seeks a fourth term in elections on Sept. 24. Her government is moving forward with plans for speedier deportations of rejected asylum seekers after a record 890,000 arrived in Europe’s biggest economy in 2015.

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