German police investigate fire at Ukrainian shelter with swastika painted on door | Ukraine and Russia

A fire practically destroyed a shelter for Ukrainians in Gross Stromkendorf, northern Germany, on Thursday (20). The 15 refugees and staff were evacuated in time and there are no casualties, local police said in a statement. But the authorities are considering the hypothesis of a crime of a racist nature.

The fire started on Wednesday night (19). Firefighters were unable to control the fire and, after removing the occupants, left the property, located in a remote area, to be consumed by flames, as shown by images of the incident released by the German press.

“Police assume the origin of the fire is criminal”, say the researchers, who do not rule out the involvement of far-right groups. A police patrol had already visited the shelter on Wednesday after discovering a swastika painted on the door, according to local media. About 170 Ukrainian refugees have been welcomed into the shelter since March.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser was at the scene of the fire late Thursday afternoon. She said that “such facts should not be tolerated by any of us at any level”, and reiterated that the fire was “probably arson”, assuring that the government’s response would be “severe.”

Firefighters try to contain a fire in a building housing Ukrainian refugees in Gross Stroemkendorf, eastern Germany, on the evening of October 20, 2022.

In Apolda, in the center of the country, another house for Ukrainians was destroyed earlier this month. But the building was empty at the time of the fire. Since the beginning of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, Germany has registered the arrival of more than 967,000 Ukrainian refugees and many of them have remained in the country.

They were welcomed with open arms by the Germans and quickly integrated. But the country’s far right supports Russian President Vladimir Putin and believes that it would be enough to end sanctions against Moscow to end the energy crisis gripping Europe. Since the start of the Ukrainian war on February 24, more than 5 million Ukrainians have fled the country.

Firefighters try to contain a fire in a building housing Ukrainian refugees in Gross Stroemkendorf, eastern Germany, on the evening of October 20, 2022.

Understand, in 5 points, the escalation of tension in the Ukraine war

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