Fire destroys refugee shelter for Ukrainians in Germany

Oct 19, 2022, 3:00 PM | Updated: Oct 20, 2022, 5:24 am

Firefighters extinguish the fire in a hotel where refugees from Ukraine were accommodated in Gross ...

Firefighters extinguish the fire in a hotel where refugees from Ukraine were accommodated in Gross Stroemkendorf, Germany, Thursday, Oct.20, 2022. A fire has almost completely destroyed a shelter for refugees from Ukraine in the municipality of Groß Strömkendorf in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on Thursday night. ( Jens Büttner/dpa/via AP)

( Jens Büttner/dpa/via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — A fire that destroyed a shelter for Ukrainian refugees on Germany’s Baltic coast could have been arson, the country’s top security official suggested Thursday, warning that any kind of violence toward people fleeing war would not be tolerated.

The 14 residents and three employees who lived in the shelter were rescued from the flames when the former hotel in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Pomerania burned down Wednesday night, local police said. Nobody was injured, and the refugees were taken to other shelters, according to authorities. Among the refugees who had to be evacuated were two children, two teenagers and an elderly woman.

“This is terrible news. People who found shelter with us from (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war had to be rescued from the flames,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.

“If arson is confirmed, it is an inhumane crime that will be prosecuted with all severity,” she said, adding that she would travel to the site of the fire later Thursday.

The police unit that looks into politically motivated offenses in the nearby city of Rostock took over the investigation of the blaze in the town of Gross Stroemkendorf from local police, who had started looking into arson as the cause, German news agency dpa reported.

While the cause of the fire was still under investigation, it appeared to have started on one of the outside walls of the building, dpa reported.

The state’s governor, Manuela Schwesig, also expressed shock.

“One thing must be clear to everyone: People fleeing war need our protection and support. We do not tolerate incitement and violence,” Schwesig, said.

On Monday, police received a report of graffiti depicting a Nazi swastika in the entrance area of the shelter. Whether the graffiti was connected to the fire is not yet known, police said.

A resident of the shelter told German news channel n-tv the fire was “very frightening.”

“We were here in safety and protected, and suddenly we have to leave our home again, again fear for our safety,” the refugee said.

More than 1 million refugees from Ukraine, most of them women and children, went to Germany seeking protection since Russia invaded their country almost eight months ago.

The refugees initially were welcomed with warmth, and many German families opened their homes to shelter them. However, a vocal minority has expressed hostility toward them and other foreigners arriving in the country.


Follow all AP stories on migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Associated Press

Young humpback whale leaps out of Seattle bay, dazzling onlookers

A humpback whale visiting the waters off Seattle dazzled onlookers Thursday morning with several breaches in the bay just beyond the city’s downtown area.

3 days ago

FILE - Oregon State's Ryan Cooper Jr. (23) attempts to strip the ball from Washington State's De'Zh...

Associated Press

Oregon State, Washington State, Mountain West agree to 6-game football scheduling arrangement

Oregon State, Washington State and the Mountain West announced a football scheduling agreement Friday for the 2024 season that gives the two Pac-12 schools six opponents each and keeps open the possibility that they will operate as a two-team conference for at least a year.

3 days ago

FILE - Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., watches as Republicans try to elect Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., to...

Associated Press

US House expels New York Rep. George Santos

Rep. George Santos of New York uis facing a critical vote to expel him from the House on Friday as lawmakers weigh whether his actions, fabrications and alleged lawbreaking warrant the chamber's most severe punishment.

3 days ago

FILE - Flags fly in front of the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Ore., on May 24, 2013. Oregon Stat...

Associated Press

City Council in Portland approves $2.6M for police body cameras

The City Council in Portland, Oregon, approved $2.6 million for permanent police body cameras in a unanimous vote, a crucial step toward the city no longer being among the last major U.S. police agencies without the technology.

3 days ago

WA ferries summer reservations...

Associated Press

Ferry operators around the country to receive $200M in federal grants to modernize fleets

The Biden administration will issue $200 million in grants to modernize the country's ferry systems, officials announced Thursday.

4 days ago

CAPTION CORRECTION CORRECTS LOCATION: An elderly person is helped in a mini-bus transporting Israel...

Associated Press

Last planned release of hostages begins, as mediators aim to extend Israel-Hamas truce

International mediators on Wednesday worked to extend the truce in Gaza, encouraging Hamas militants to keep freeing hostages in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners and further relief from Israel’s air and ground offensive. The cease-fire will otherwise end within a day.

5 days ago

Fire destroys refugee shelter for Ukrainians in Germany