Amid mounting political strife over the deluge of refugees from the Middle East and Africa, Germany has seen a sharp rise in attacks on homes intended for refugees, the government said. Nearly 500 such attacks have occurred this year, three times more than in 2014, reported the BCC Friday.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere called the violence on the homes "shameful," according to the BBC. Two-thirds of the attacks were carried out by people with no criminal records who live near the homes, he said. De Maiziere called for a swift response to the attacks against asylum-seekers. Some of the attacks have been on empty homes, but others have targeted buildings occupied by refugees, who've been coming from war-torn and economically distressed countries in record numbers over the past 10 months.
Those carrying out the attacks "must be made to understand that they are committing unacceptable offenses: assault, attempted murder, arson," he said, according to the BBC.
Germany is expected to host some 800,000 asylum-seekers this year. A large number of the refugees reaching central Europe have reportedly expressed a desire to settle in Germany. More than 500,000 people have sought asylum in the European Union in 2015, many from countries in the midst of conflict. Syria alone has seen some 12 million people displaced from their home amid a continued civil war. Tensions have grown in the country as some were demanding limits placed on the number of refugees set to arrive in the country.
Conservative leaders in the southeastern state of Bavaria, despite being allied with Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, have fervently opposed her open-door policy for refugees.
Merkel's open-door policy for refugees from countries torn by conflict, including Syria and Iraq, has caused division among citizens, as well. A recent survey suggested half of all Germans approve of the refugee policy, and 43 percent disagree.
Along with the uptick in attacks against homes, some people have reacted with other forms of aggression toward refugees. Arson attacks on refugee shelters, for instance, occur almost daily, reported the Guardian. There have also been reports of refugees being greeted at their new homes by "neo-Nazis humming Third Reich songs or being pelted with banana skins," the paper reported.