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Town in former East Germany offers to take in migrants despite AFD popularity in region

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By Euronews
Town in former East Germany offers to take in migrants despite AFD popularity in region
Copyright  AFP

The northeastern German town of Neuruppin has said that it wants to welcome refugees into its community, despite the popularity of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AFD) in the surrounding region.

The town has said that it has space for as many as 75 refugees.

Neuruppin's declaration comes after a fire devastated the overcrowded Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Jens-Peter Golde, Neuruppin's mayor, says he believes it's the right thing to do: "When we see the images of Moria, it is not a question of dissenting on major political decisions, it is a question of morality. We have the opportunity to help people in need, so why shouldn't we?"

Martin Osinski, head of the alliance of collectives "Neuruppin Stays Colourful" and also former head of the district's 18 shelters for asylum seekers says, newcomers are good for the town.

"I see a lot of people who have learned German and have found work here. The nursing school recruits its apprentices from among the refugees because few young Germans choose these care professions," Osinski said.

"Integration is taking place and in my opinion, it is not only a duty of the newcomers but also a matter of giving and taking."

Images of the Moria fire prompted the town's leader to speak out. The fire left 13,000 people without shelter.

Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed that Germany will take in 1,500 migrants and Neuruppin wants to take its share, much like 173 cities in the country.

Just 16 of them are in former East Germany.

The five regions that make up the former communist state have been markedly more hostile to migrants and refugees, particularly in the wake of the 2015 migrant crisis when more than one million resettled in Germany.

Tapping in anxieties over undocumented migration, AFD enjoyed its highest levels of support in former East Germany, winning three constituencies in the state of Saxony from Merkel's CDU in the federal election in 2017.