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German refugee shelters ban New Year’s Eve fireworks


Many refugee shelters in Germany have banned firecrackers and pyrotechnics on New Year’s Eve for safety reasons and to protect asylum seekers from reliving the trauma of wars they fled.

On a night when loud cracks and explosions echo through German streets and night skies are illuminated with rocket bursts, authorities in at least four states said they had prohibited fireworks in refugee centres.

“People from war zones tends to associate the bangs with shots and bombs rather than with New Year’s fireworks,” Christoph Soebbeler, a town official in Arnsberg, North Rhine-Westphalia state, told national news agency DPA.

“That could reignite people’s traumas.”

Fireworks have also been prohibited or discouraged in many shelters in Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania states that are housing many of the one million asylum seekers who arrived this year.

Elsewhere, police in the city of Mannheim have distributed Arabic-language information brochures to prepare refugees for fireworks and other aspects of Germany’s traditionally noisy and alcohol-fuelled New Year’s Eve celebrations.

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