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Germany investigates reports of refugees forced into prostitution
October 27, 2017
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BERLIN: German authorities are investigating reports that asylum seekers in a Berlin refugee camp were forced into prostitution, officials said, adding that they had not been able to confirm that such incidents had taken place.

The allegations come amid heightened concern at Germany’s ability to integrate the 1.1 million refugees who arrived in 2015 and 2016. The political parties negotiating to form a new national coalition government are arguing over whether to impose a cap on immigration numbers.

Broadcaster ZDF reported on Tuesday that employees of a security company that runs several refugee camps in Berlin were luring asylum seekers, some of them minors, into prostitution.

Both national government and Berlin city officials said they were investigating the allegations, and Berlin said its staff would be given further training to help them identify such cases.

“If the allegations of security staff profiting from and driving refugees into prostitution are true, these would be very serious charges,” said government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

“Exploiting the material hardship in which many refugees and immigrants live is totally unacceptable. Forcing people into prostitution is morally reprehensible,” he said.

Meanwhile, German federal police arrested an Iraqi suspected people-smuggler believed to be responsible for the deaths of 54 asylum seekers whose boat sank en route to Europe, authorities said.

The 27-year-old man, who was not named, was taken into custody on Wednesday in the northern town of Strande after refugees who survived the horrific voyage recognised him, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in nearby Kiel told AFP.

He said the suspect allegedly belonged to a group of people-smugglers trying to bring a group of 320 asylum seekers to Greece from Turkey by boat.

However several of the potential passengers refused to board the vessel on the grounds that it looked unsafe, leading the smugglers to “force them at gunpoint”.

While at sea, one of the smugglers allegedly handed the wheel to an asylum seeker and the boat sank within an hour.

Fifty-four people perished, having had “no chance” of reaching shore, the spokesman, Axel Bieler, said.

Prosecutors believe the 27-year-old was key in organising the deadly journey.

“He arranged the contacts, he put together the logistics with his accomplices,” Bieler said.

The suspect, who himself came to Germany in 2015 and applied for asylum, has received a limited residence permit along with his wife and child.

Reuters/AFP
 

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