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German town sees blowback over relocations for refugees

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BERLIN — A German town’s decision to relocate about 40 residents from their apartments to temporarily house refugees there has generated hundreds of hate mails and thousands of calls, an official said Wednesday.

Authorities in Lörrach, a town of 49,000 people in Germany’s southwestern corner and just over the border from the Swiss city of Basel, announced on Monday that that they would use the municipally owned residential buildings from the 1950s to house about 100 refugees.

The town said in a statement that the buildings were already “at the end of their life cycle” and due to be demolished in the coming years to make way for new housing.

It added that “more modern and affordable housing offers will be made to the tenants promptly, according to their personal situation,” and that they will be given logistical and financial help moving.

The move came as cities and towns across Germany struggle to house large numbers of refugees and migrants who have arrived over the past year, not only from Ukraine but also from countries further afield such as Syria and Afghanistan, and have been parceled out among regions.

Some have resorted to using convention centers, sports facilities or tents as regular migrant centers run out of room.

Anti-migration politicians seized on the Lörrach case. Alice Weidel, the co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, sharply criticized the decision and complained of what she asserted was “an open preference for so-called refugees over those who have lived here for a long time.”

The manager of the Wohnbau Lörrach housing company, Thomas Nostadt, said at a news conference Wednesday that the reaction had been “somewhat surprising and intimidates us.”

“We have received hundreds of hate mails, thousands of calls, and now the first letters,” with contents that are “difficult to bear,” he said.

Mayor Jörg Lutz said the town’s decision was “not suited to a scandal.” He added that “we don’t get up in the morning and wonder … how we can unnecessarily annoy people or somehow cause trouble for them.”

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.