Child's near death sparks row over refugee homes

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Child's near death sparks row over refugee homes

A political row has broken out in Bavaria after an asylum seekers' home failed to help a toddler who almost died of meningitis. The case has raised concerns about the treatment of refugees in the state.


Three workers at the home in Zirndorf - two of whom were security guards - were fined 60 times their daily wage by a court in Fürth on Tuesday after they refused to call an ambulance for the 18-month-old child of a Serbian couple in December 2011.

They were fined between €2,400 and €3,000.

The child was initially misdiagnosed by a doctor, but when large black infections appeared on the boy’s face, arms, and legs, the security guards made the couple walk to the nearest clinic, two kilometres away.

A passing motorist stopped and helped them after he saw them frantically flagging down passing cars.

The child nearly died of meningitis, spent two weeks in an induced coma, and needed extensive skin grafts to survive. One finger and one toe had to be amputated.

Spokesman for the Bavarian Refugees' Council Alexander Thal said the incident was symptomatic of the attitude inside asylum seekers' homes in the state, which he described as "organized irresponsibility".

"The whole thing has greater proportions and structure," said Thal on Wednesday, adding that it can often take up to three weeks for refugees to get initial medical examinations.

He said the problem was often not a lack of resources, but "a lack of responsibility" - in other words, no-one wanted to take responsibility.

Bavarian Social Affairs Minister Emilia Müller, of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), denied the claims, saying that the incident in Zirndorf was a "regrettable case of misconduct on an isolated occasion," and that all asylum seekers had access to adequate medical treatment.

The centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) also weighed in on the row to contradict Müller. Integration policy spokesman Arif Tasdelen said there needed to be both more medical staff on hand in asylum seekers' homes and easier access to local doctors.

He described it as a "scandal for the rich state of Bavaria that an all-round medical aid for refugees was not being provided”.

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