Wednesday, December 30, 2015

German town bans New Year fireworks near migrant shelters

*Getty Images*A large fireworks display is held every year in Berlin over the Brandenberg Gate

The German town of Arnsberg has banned the use of New Year fireworks around its migrant and refugees shelters to avoid the bangs triggering traumatic flashbacks.

Psychiatrists say the sounds of the fireworks could provoke extreme stress among those who have fled war zones.

The town, in North Rhine-Westphalia, also banned sales to shelter residents.

In other parts of the country, migrants have been notified about the likelihood of fireworks during the night.

Amateur firework displays are popular in Germany and small, hand-held rockets are often set off in residential areas.

"Those who have fled war-torn areas associate the bangs more with gunshots and bombs than with New Year," Christian Soebbeler, a spokesman for Arnsberg town, told newspaper Deutsche Welle.

According to a report published in September by Germany's Federal Psychotherapy Chamber, 40% to 50% of migrants or refugees in Germany suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.

Dr Joachim Bauer, a psychotherapist from the University Medical Centre in Freiburg, told Deutsche Welle that for those suffering from PTSD, the sound of fireworks could cause anxiety, panic and shock.

"For this reason it seems sensible to prohibit the customary New Year's fireworks in refugee shelters and the surrounding areas," he said.

Germany has accepted more refugees than any other European nation. More than one million new asylum-seekers registered in the country in 2015.

Meanwhile, German supermarket chain Aldi Sued has faced criticism for offering a New Year's Eve fireworks set branded "Paris", little more than a month after the jihadist attacks in the French capital that claimed 130 lives.

German media and Twitter users said the product was in poor taste. But a spokesman for the company said the product was manufactured in February, well before the attacks.

Source: BBC

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