German mayor calls concerns over child safety ‘unfounded’ amid plans to accommodate 80 asylum seekers at a primary school

FILE - Dozens of people from all over the world line up in front of the central registration center for asylum seekers in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Sept. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Outraged parents have condemned the local mayor’s decision to accommodate up to 80 asylum seekers in containers on the grounds of a primary school in the German town of Monheim am Rhein.

Dozens of local residents attended a recent question time of the local council to voice their displeasure over the controversial move proposed by Mayor Daniel Zimmerman’s administration and expressed their concerns for child safety, calling the plans both inappropriate and unacceptable.

Starting next spring, a cohort of migrants will reside in containers located on the school grounds, which are no longer used for educational purposes.

In response to the protestations of locals, the council cited economic factors as a primary reason for the move, insisting that the estimated €150,000 it would cost to convert the containers into housing was substantially lower than the cost of renting private accommodations, where around 80 percent of the migrants recently received by the municipality currently reside.

“We simply can’t keep up with renting anymore,” a city press spokesperson told parents at the meeting.

Concerned parents told the council meeting that the housing of traumatized refugees in the vicinity of young children was wholly irresponsible, and expressed worries of potential conflict between the new arrivals and their children including the danger of rape or abuse.

However, Zimmerman called these fears “unfounded” and insisted that the migrants are “people like you and me” and are not dangerous.

“The safety of our children is the primary goal – I personally guarantee that,” the local mayor assured parents.

He explained that with the municipality receiving significantly more refugees from Ukraine, Syria, and Afghanistan, private accommodation in Monheim has become saturated and the town is reaching its acceptance limits. The council therefore needs to resort to alternative measures to accommodate further arrivals.

The mayor added that while he was open to discussing the matter further with concerned parents in the next few weeks, for instance at parent meetings, such correspondence will not change the city’s decision to repurpose the containers on the school grounds and considered the matter to be closed.

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