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Three held after fight in Dutch refugee centre


RefugeesDutch police said three men were in detention Sunday after a late-night brawl at a refugee centre in the city of Arnhem left four people slightly hurt.

The Saturday night fight was the latest of a series of incidents which have flared in the Netherlands as it copes with a record influx of asylum seekers this year amid a Europe-wide crisis which has sharply divided public opinion here.

The three men under arrest were aged 24, 25 and 26. One came from Tilburg and two from Arnhem.

About 15 people were involved, the Dutch police said in a statement, adding the incident was being investigated and “the reason for the fight is not yet known.”

Contacted by AFP, a police spokesman said no further information was immediately available.

The Dutch news agency, ANP, said one of the injured might have to be operated on for a broken nose. He also suffered an injury to his eye.

Arnhem, in the eastern Netherlands, is just one of the places where tens of thousands of refugees are being housed as their request for asylum is processed.

The Netherlands took in a record 54,000 refugees in the first 11 months of 2015 fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and Africa.

But tensions have at times spilled over into violence in local and national debates about the issue.

Earlier this month, police fired warning shots to break up a riot in the central village of Geldermalsen, which erupted over plans to open a refugee centre for some 1,500 migrants.

In a Christmas Day message, King Willem-Alexander called on his people to stand by those in need and not to let fear about their future overwhelm them.

“Of course we want to protect what is dear to us. We can’t stop or deny feelings of fear. But we mustn’t hand it (fear) the reins of our life and allow it to dominate our society,” the king warned.

The Dutch people “cannot crawl back into our shell” but need courage and dignity to work together “in turbulent times” and to show “solidarity with those who really need our help.”

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