A new report claims that migrant youth gangs in the Ebertplatz area of Cologne are becoming increasingly violent, leading some to describe the area as turning into a no-go zone.
Authorities in the Eberplatz area say that in recent months young migrants from the Middle East and Africa have turned the place into a no-go zone once the sun goes down. Over just the past nine months, police have been involved in around 3,000 incidents in the area ranging from simple stop and search to the murder of a 22-year-old African migrant last Saturday evening, Die Welt reports.
Police arrested three men in connection with the murder saying they were all part of the local drug scene. Police officials in Germany have previously warned that in some areas of the country asylum seekers and illegal migrants have begun to take over the lucrative drug trade, often using violence to achieve their goals.
One of the reasons the area has become so popular for drug dealing is its design allows criminals to come and go through passageways and tunnels and avoid authorities.
“The square is designed at such angles that even on the ground police can not overlook the entire area. This means that drug trafficking and acts of violence are not detected and prevented in a timely manner,” police said.
While police are called into the area on a daily basis and have carried out over 3,000 separate actions in the area, only 19 suspects have been arrested and prosecuted for crimes.
Ruth Wennemar, the spokesman for a local citizen’s association, said she, along with many other women, avoided the area altogether. “It has become a no-go zone for them. The boys drink hard alcohol from noon,” she said adding: “In the evening from 8 pm the Africans dominate the square, a marijuana cloud floats over it. That goes well into the night.”
The scenes are similar to reports in Paris where migrants in certain neighbourhoods harass women on the street and refuse to let them into cafes.
Politicians and police have advocated increasing the police presence in the area by building a mobile small police station, a move which is also being tried in an emerging no-go zone in Berlin. Local resident Gerd Franke, 63, said a redesign of the area and an increased police presence will not work. “At best, the drug scene will shift elsewhere,” he said.