Cologne police investigate sexual harassment against female refugees

German police are investigating allegations of sexual harassment against female refugees by security personnel in an emergency accommodation in the western city of Cologne.

As many as 70 refugees have written two open letters containing allegations of sexual harassment and neglect by security personnel in charge of a school gymnasium functioning as refugee accommodation in the Cologne district of Poll, police said.

Police are investigating the claims and have interviewed one woman who says she was sexually harassed. The refugees plan to present the letters to the Ministry for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) later on Thursday.

One of the letters accuses security personnel of making lewd remarks to women and photographing and filming them in the shower and while breastfeeding, regional newspaper Koelner Stadtanzeiger reported.

The other calls for speedier handling of their asylum requests; the immediate removal of the security personnel in question; and an improvement of the living conditions at the hostel.

Photographs of the accommodation show scores of sleeping cots lined up next to each other and rubbish on the floor, the report said.

"For us, the gymnasium is not an emergency accommodation, it is a prison," one of the open letters reads, according to the newspaper.

Germany took in 1.1 million migrants in 2015. The lumbering pace of administration and a lack of funds in the country's 16 federal states has left many refugees struggling for basic necessities.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

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