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Refugee women 'abused by camp security guards'

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Photo: DPA
14:23 CET+01:00
A group of women at an emergency shelter in Cologne have accused the security personnel there of spying on them naked and even trying to blackmail them into sex.

“The sports hall is no emergency shelter for us - it’s a prison,” the refugees said in an open letter to the city seen by the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

Around 200 people are currently being housed in the sports hall at the Georg-Simon-Ohm College.

Asylum seekers complain that beds lie next to one another without screens to provide privacy, that there is rubbish strewn across the hallway, and that there are only six toilets and two showers which aren't divided by sex.

The women meanwhile accuse employees at the security firm which runs the emergency shelter of filming or photographing them while they shower or while they breastfeed.

The security personnel ambush the women and try and convince them to have sex with them, the letter claims.

One young Syrian woman, who has been living in the sports hall for slightly more than a month, told the Kölnische Stadt Anzeiger “one asked me if I’d go with him, saying he wanted to be alone with me. When I told him I was taken and I wasn’t interested, he told me I’d soon be kicked out.”

The woman was one of around 70 asylum seekers who showed up in front of the Office for Migration and Refugees to hand in two letters of complaint.

One of the letters demanded that their asylum applications be processed more quickly and an improvement in their living conditions.

The other was from sent only from the women, and complained about “the sexual abuse and harassment from the security personnel” calling for their replacement.

Police who were at the scene of the refugees’ demonstration said that they had to make complaints in order for them to be able to investigate.

A representative from the security company Adlerwache , which controls the hall, defended his employees against the accusations.

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“I am outraged by the accusations. I am certain that they are completely unfounded,” Bernhard Deschamps told the Kölner Stadt Anzeiger.

Ulrich Prößl from the Cologne Refugee Council said that “it would be a catastrophe if the accusations turn out to be true”.

He called for shelters to appoint an independent person to take inhabitants' complaints, saying that “otherwise no one knows what’s going on in there.”

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