October 02, 2015
Hamburg has become the first German city to pass a law allowing the seizure of empty commercial properties in order to house migrants
Hamburg has become the first German city to pass a law allowing the seizure of empty commercial properties in order to house migrants.
The massive influx of migrants has put pressure on city authorities to find accommodation. Some migrants are sleeping rough outdoors.
Hamburg's law takes effect next week.
In a new survey,
by broadcaster ARD
, 51% of people said the influx scared them. It suggests a four-year low in Chancellor Angela Merkel's popularity.
She has said Germany can accommodate migrants who have genuinely fled war or persecution - a humanitarian gesture towards the many thousands risking their lives to reach Europe this year.
But many politicians - including her conservative Bavarian CSU allies and various EU partners - have criticised the open-door policy.
How long can Merkel's open-door policy last?
Hamburg's new law is described as a temporary, emergency measure. Owners of empty commercial properties will be compensated. The law does not include residential properties.
But the conservative opposition in the city, in the north of Germany, condemned the move.
The authorities in Bremen, a city just west of Hamburg, are considering passing a similar law.
Germany expects to host at least 800,000 asylum seekers this year - about four times the number it had last year.
Many are from war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. But the thousands arriving also include asylum seekers from Kosovo, Albania and other Balkan countries, whose claims are usually rejected.
On Thursday more than 200 migrants fought each other in a mass brawl at a reception centre in Hamburg-Bergedorf. Police said Syrians and Afghans were involved in the latest clash.
Similar fights have erupted at some other migrant centres in Germany.
A bigger brawl
took place near Kassel, in central Germany, at the end of September.
In Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and elsewhere the authorities have erected tented camps for migrants - but with winter approaching they are deemed too basic as communal housing.
There is hardly any accommodation left in Hamburg for migrants, who are entering the city at a rate of about 500 daily, ARD television reports.
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