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    Refugees and migrants arrive in their accommodation, the exhibition halls of the Trade Fair Messe Erfurt, in Erfurt, central Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. The city of Erfurt expect up to 600 migrants to arrive within some hours.

    Housing Refugees in German School Gyms Provokes Tensions, Social Conflicts

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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)
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    A gym is often the most available facility to house refugees. Currently, in many German regions local gyms are confiscated and used as refugee shelters amid the ongoing migrant crisis.

    This creates a number of difficulties and provokes social conflicts, an article in Die Welt read.

    The Rudolf Harbig hall is one of the main sports facilities of Olympic Stadium in Berlin. It is a training location for many Berlin athletes and a venue for national and local tournaments.

    Last week, the Senate ordered the gym and some neighboring facilities to be confiscated and used to house refugees.

    Professional athletes took away their belongings, and then the location was transformed into a shelter for migrants.

    The confiscation of sports halls was spontaneous and was not discussed with anybody, Gerhard Janetzky, president of the Berlin Athletics Association, said.

    He added that the closure of gyms and other locations is harmful to the development of sports.

    "This is like a ban on being an athlete. The measures do not take into account athletes’ interests who are not that ready to help refugees," he was quoted as saying by Die Welt.

    Representatives of the local sports union voiced concerns over the confiscation of local sports facilities.

    According to them, this undermines an important initiative aimed to integrate migrants into the society. Over 40 Berlin sports clubs agreed to use their facilities for social programs for migrants, but now they will have to abandon the plans.

    "Confiscation should come only as a last resort. It should be a temporary measure," former Berlin senator Klaus Boger said.

    What is more, in other German regions there are fears rising that the confiscation of gyms would provoke a conflict of interests in the long term, according to the article.

    Currently, local schools are simply not prepared for a great amount of refugee children. As gyms are being used to shelter migrants, many schools cannot use them for regular classes.

    "Sooner or later parents will ask: will the gym ever be free again?" Simone Fleischmann, President of the Teachers’ Union, said.

    Finally, many schools have shabby gyms which cannot be proper places to shelter refugees. Many of them are not heated, not equipped with shower rooms, and have numerous sanitary issues. Taking into account that winter is coming, a new option should be found to house refugees, the article read.

    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)


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