The emergency services will no longer attend call outs to a migrant ‘tent city’ near the German village of Calden, unless accompanied by a security escort, a police spokesman for the region has stated. The decision was taken after an ambulance crew were harassed by migrants and their vehicle attacked.
The camp has also been rocked by a number of riots and violent clashes.
The 3,000 residents of Calden, situated seven miles north of Kassel and renowned for its beautiful Rococo palace, were happy to welcome the migrants when they first started arriving. Four garages worth of clothing and other items were donated, and the village’s local volunteer fire fighters lent a hand constructing a tent city within the grounds of a local airport. Facilities include a medical centre and 30 showers.
But the camp, built for 1,000 but now host to 1,380 migrants, has played witness to a number of violent incidents, including riots and beatings, making the local residents fear for their own safety.
On September 18 an ambulance was dispatched to the tent city, but the crew suffered harassment and their vehicle was attacked, local police spokesman Torsten Werner told local media.
Since then, police have agreed with ambulance staff that any migrants requiring medical treatment must be met at the medical centre at the entrance to the camp, and ambulance crews are to enter the tent city itself unless they have a police escort although that scenario has not yet occurred.
Doctors working in the medical centre are also insisting that police are always within earshot when examining patients, in case of attacks.
Since the September ambulance attack, the situation has escalated. On Sunday, a riot broke out in the camp when a 19 year old Albanian cut in front of a 43 year old Pakistani in the food queue. Within minutes, 300 migrants were attacking each other with metal bars and pepper spray in rival mobs, according to the Washington Post.
“You know, when the refugees started coming, I was one of those who saw people needing help and I thought we have to help,” said Harry Kloska, 46, a skydiving instructor who was forced to take cover with his clients in an office on the airbase.
“But it’s been weeks [since the refugee camp opened], and I have a different opinion now. I am not sure that we’re going to be able to do this, to help so many people from so many different countries.”
Kloska is not the only local resident to have had a change of heart. Nervous residents have started locking their doors at night.
One mother complained that her 17 year old daughter was sexually harassed at a bus stop. “Of course we are afraid,” she said.
Mayor Maik Mackewitz said “several young women” have stopped jogging in the nearby woods “because they are afraid of all these groups of men walking around.”
The local supermarket has been forced to hire security staff for the first time, as migrants open the packaged food before they’ve paid for it.
Frank Himmelmann, 50, the Pastor of Johannes Church in Calden, says the locals weren’t given any time to prepare for the newcomers. One day in July the authorities announced that they were coming; two days later state officials turned up and started constructing the tent city.
The migrants aren’t happy either. “There is no security, no safety here; nobody knows what’s happening or who to ask for what,” complained Salim Firas Shafeeq al Omari, a 40-year-old Iraqi. He says he sheltered two Pakistani youths in his tent during the riot to save them from gangs of Albanians going tent to tent. “Of course there are going to be problems.”