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DHL stops deliveries to ‘risky’ Berlin area

The German mail service DHL said deliveries through its express service to the Berlin district of Wedding were suspended due to fraud and attacks on their carriers, as fresh reports of "no-go" areas continue to surface.

Published: November 25, 2016, 12:16 pm

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    Local Berlin media reported on Wednesday about the delivery suspension, with newspapers like the Berliner Kurier calling attention to “no-go” areas.

    The centrally-located Wedding is often characterized as being a “problem neighbourhood” by German media, known for having higher than average rates of joblessness and welfare recipients.

    A DHL spokesman told news agency DPA on Wednesday that the company has asked certain people who live in the Wedding neighbourhood of the city to pick up their packages at a DHL Express station in Wilmersdorf instead.

    The spokesman further explained that DHL will ask recipients in the future to also pick up their packages when it is necessary.

    According to Tagesspiegel, another daily, certain items like laptops and smartphones are stolen during deliveries, quoting a DHL spokeswoman who said that carriers had been threatened and attacked.

    But DHL told DPA that it was cases of fraud that were the most concerning.

    “The priority here is the safety of our couriers and of the deliveries that are given to us,” the company said.

    “It is mainly about attempted fraud,” said the DHL spokesperson Anke Blenn, referring to when people falsely pose as the recipient of packages.

    The spokesperson tried to downplay reports by other Berlin media outlets of violent attacks on carriers, saying such attacks happened infrequently.

    Local politicians and police have denied initial reports of “no-go” areas in Wedding.

    “There are none of these ‘no-go’ areas,” a Berlin police spokesman told The Local. “Police consistently follow every criminal offense, no matter where they happen.”

    An earlier exposé by Der Spiegel belied their comments: “There are districts where immigrant gangs are taking over entire metro trains for themselves. Native residents and business people are being intimidated and silenced… The reasons for this: the high rate of unemployment, the lack of job prospects for immigrants without qualifications for the German labor market and ethnic tensions among migrants.”

    Spiraling levels of violent crime perpetrated by immigrants from the Middle East and the Balkans are turning parts of Duisburg, a key German industrial city, into “areas of lawlessness” too — areas that are becoming de facto “no-go” zones for police, according to a confidential police report that was leaked to the left-leaning German newsmagazine in 2015.

    Bernhard Witthaut, Chief Police Commissioner of Germany, remarked that most officials look the other way: “Every police commissioner and interior minister will deny it. But of course we know where we can go with the police car….[O]ur colleagues can no longer feel safe there in twos, and have to fear becoming the victim of a crime themselves. We know that these areas exist. Even worse: in these areas, crimes no longer result in charges. They are left to themselves. Only in the worst cases do we in the police learn anything about it. The power of the state is completely out of the picture.”

    The absence of law enforcement has “enabled the emergence of a criminal parallel society,” Der Spiegel noted. “This would not have happened if the authorities had acted early and decisively.”

    A Duisburg City Councilman, Volker Mosblech complained that every attempt to address migrant criminality is met with outsized political agony: “When I say that steps must be taken to ensure immigrants comply with rules and regulations, I’m immediately branded as a far right extremist. But order is exactly what is needed.”

    The DHL Express service is primarily used by businesses to deliver valuable items at fixed times. DHL’s regular service will continue to bring packages directly to recipients, or leave them at a neighbour’s house or a nearby post office when they are not at home in other areas.

    Berlin police declined to comment on the relative danger of the neighbourhood, pointing instead to their statistics, which show that within its greater district of Mitte, it has a lower frequency of crime overall than nearby tourist hub Alexanderplatz and the more residential Moabit, but relatively high rates of robbery and assault.

    But they have convinced few inhabitants. In Berlin, some 30 members of rival immigrant gangs got into a fight on June 24 outside a nightclub in the Neukölln district of Berlin. After police arrived, the mob began attacking the officers. More than 60 police officers were needed to restore order, the Berliner Morgenpost reported.

    Also in Berlin, dozens of police officers were deployed to break up a scuffle between 50 members of two rival immigrant families at a public playground in Neukölln on June 4. The brawl began when two young boys got into a fight, which quickly spiraled out of control after adult family members got involved.

    In an interview with the German newsmagazine Focus, the head of the police union in North Rhine-Westphalia, Arnold Plickert, warned of the emergence of no-go zones in the cities of Cologne, Dortmund, Duisburg and Essen, saying rival groups are fighting for supremacy of the streets.

    According to Roman Reusch, a top public prosecutor in Berlin and member of the right-wing AfD party, young people born into the immigrant clans “are consistently trained to become professional criminals”.

    karin.bredenkamp@freewestmedia.com

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