Refugee communities condemn New Year's Eve attacks in Germany

Refugee and migrant communities across Europe on Wednesday condemned a spate of New Year's Eve attacks on women in Germany, incidents that have raised anxieties about Germany's refugee policy because of allegations the attackers were foreigners.

The attacks - in which women say they were robbed, groped and even raped by mobs of men - have prompted about 1,000 complaints, which are being investigated by police in the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia.

"We condemn any violence against women, be they nationals or foreigners, perpetrated by foreigners or nationals. Perpetrators should be prosecuted and convicted," read a statement signed by refugees and migrant associations.

The statement was supported by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) as well as 40 non-governmental organizations.

"The perpetrators, be they asylum seekers or not, are not representative of the majority of people living and seeking refuge in the European Union," the statement said.

The refugee and migrant groups also called on authorities in Europe not to polarize societies or use the events on New Year's Eve as an excuse to close their borders.

Most of the allegations focus on events in the city of Cologne outside its main train station. However, state police are also investigating allegations of similar attacks - but on a smaller scale - in Dusseldorf, Dortmund and Bielefeld, according to a report by the state Interior Ministry.

The report was seen by dpa before its submission to the regional assembly in Dusseldorf on Wednesday.

The number of recorded victims stands at 1,216, it says. So far police have identified 52 suspects, most of whom are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The New Year's Eve attacks have heated up the migration debate in Germany as opposing sides question whether or not there might be a link between the attacks and the increasing number of asylum seekers in the country.

Last update: Thu, 21/01/2016 - 02:01

More from Europe

EP Foreign Affairs Committee warns of rising tensions in W. Balkans

Members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on Tuesday expressed concern over rising tensions and incendiary...

Gabriel set to become German foreign minister

Social Democrat chief Sigmar Gabriel is set to become Germany's foreign minister after deciding against standing as...

Gabriel proposes Schulz as the centre-left SPD's challenger to Merkel

German Social Democrat (SPD) chief Sigmar Gabriel said Tuesday he will not lead his centre-left party's challenge to...

Six killed in helicopter crash in earthquake-hit central Italy

A rescue helicopter crashed in central Italy on Tuesday, killing all six passengers on board as it returned from an...

German court tries Syrian asylum seeker accused of deli knife murder

A Syrian asylum seeker accused of killing his girlfriend with a deli knife and injuring passersby in southern town...