Berlin pushes to turn Tempelhof into Germany's biggest refugee hostel

Germany's iconic Tempelhof airport

The Berlin government wants to build new shelters on parts of the 380-hectare airfield, bringing to 7,000 the number of refugees the location can host. This would make it the largest shelter in Germany, which recorded 1.1 million migrant and refugee arrivals in 2015.

Over 2,000 refugees are currently being housed in the airport's hangars, but the Lageso agency responsible for registering refugees in the capital is struggling to keep abreast of hundreds of new arrivals each day in the face of below-zero temperatures.

Local politicians and residents are up in arms about the plans, which they say defies a referendum held in 2014 that stopped the field's green space from being developed.

Though city officials insist the refugee accommodation would only remain for a period of three years, critics argue that softening or reversing the law keeping Tempelhof development-free would enable developers to get their way in the long term.

During the Cold War, Tempelhof airport became a lifeline for West Berliners isolated during the Berlin Blockade by the Soviet Union. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the space has been used as a festival and fashion show venue, and as a film set for the Hunger Games.

Last update: Thu, 21/01/2016 - 13:15
Author: 

More from Europe

'Many dead' in hotel after avalanche in Italy quake zone

Some 30 people are trapped and many feared dead in a mountain resort hotel that was buried by what rescuers...

One dead after central Italy hit by series of quakes

One person was killed on Wednesday when a building collapsed during four powerful quakes that shook central Italy on...

Boris Johnson compares French president to WWII prison guard

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Wednesday compared Francois Hollande to a World War II prison guard after...

Merkel pledges to hold Europe together after Brexit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged on Wednesday to hold the European Union together after Britain's planned...

Slovenia looks to capitalize on its connection to Melania Trump

As Donald Trump campaigned for the Oval Office, his Slovenian-born wife Melania did not receive much love and...