Refugees leave centre after fights with far right (update)

Three families have been moved from an asylum seekers’ centre in Winschoten in the north of the country after trouble between refugee youngsters and a gang of local youths. The asylum seekers’ housing body COA and police apparently recommended the move for the families’ own safety, ANP reported.

Winschoten is a town of some 18,000 in eastern Groningen, an area of high unemployment. Police spokesman Pieter Boomsma said there had been tension between centre residents and far-right youths in the town for some time.
The situation escalated a week ago, when three asylum seekers were arrested after a fight with locals, he told NOS radio.
Mayor Janny Vlietstra told ANP that boys from the asylum seekers’ centre had been involved in violence and that local youngers had ‘turned against them’. She said the families were being moved to prevent further incidents. ‘We are not giving in to the far right,’ she said. ‘But that is not to say right-wing radicals are not involved. They are, but we do not know as yet how many.’
The asylum seekers’ lawyer, Inge Zuidhoek said action needed to be taken against the far-right supporters. ‘If you don’t do that, you need to ask yourself where it will all end.’
A government report in January said ethnic tensions between young people were far worse in rural areas than in the cities.
Boomsma said police would continue to be on high alert in the town this weekend.

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