40 people injured in pepper-spray attack on refugee shelter in Germany

Forty people, including eight children, were injured in Germany after a man pepper-sprayed asylum seekers at a refugee shelter. Police arrested the 28-year-old male suspect, who tested positive for alcohol and illegal drugs.

Dozens of people were sprayed inside a former hospital in the town of Massow, which was recently converted into refugee housing, the Local reported. The man was then overpowered and locked in an empty room, witnesses told the Berliner Morgenpost.

The refugees, who were examined by authorities, were found to have irritation of the respiratory tract and eyes. Two adults and eight children were taken to hospital following the Tuesday night incident.

Police said on Wednesday that the 28-year-old suspect from Sachsen was intoxicated, registering a blood alcohol level of .25 percent. He also tested positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine, and was already known to police for his drug use, RBB reported.

The suspect – who was employed at a building firm working at the site of the refugee shelter – was staying at a hotel in the same complex, and therefore had access to the secured area, according to police.

Germany has witnessed numerous attacks on refugees over the past several weeks, including arson attacks on shelters. The country's far right has also staged numerous anti-immigrant protests.

Referring to anti-immigrant clashes, which left 31 officers injured earlier this month, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the incident was “shameful and repulsive.”

Merkel has also said there is “no tolerance” for those who are “not willing to help where legal and human help is required.”

The German chancellor was booed as she made her way to a refugee center in the town of Heidenau last week, with demonstrators holding signs calling her a traitor.

Numerous pro-refugee rallies have been held throughout Germany in response to anti-immigrant demonstrations.

Germany expects to receive up to 800,000 asylum applications in 2015 – more than the entire EU combined in 2014.


Protest in Budapest

Hundreds of refugees staged a protest in front of a Budapest railway station on Wednesday, demanding to be allowed onto trains bound for Germany.

Shouting “Freedom! Freedom!” in front of Budapest's Keleti station, the refugees demanded that officials allow them onto trains, Reuters reported. Around 100-150 people took part, according to AFP.

More than 2,000 refugees, including families with children, were waiting in the square at the station in extreme heat on Wednesday.

Police said in a statement that the group "demanded to be allowed to travel on to Germany...police have taken the necessary security steps to ensure that train traffic is undisturbed."

But the protesters say they aren't giving up – and won't budge until they're allowed to travel to Germany.

"Normal people, abnormal people, educated, uneducated, doctors, engineers, any people, we're staying here. Until we go by train to Germany," Mohammad, a Syrian protesting at the station, told AFP.

"And this is what we will be doing [protesting] for the next day, for the next month, for the next year and for our whole life. We need our rights...it's not our dream to stay here and to sleep in the streets,” he added.

One of the refugees said that time is of the essence.

"We fear that one day everything will change, that even Germany will close the border when it has had enough, so we must make our journey extremely fast," Bilal, a Syrian from the divided city of Aleppo, said on Tuesday.

Also on Wednesday, around 100 refugees arriving from a registration center near the border with Serbia were sitting on a platform at a suburban rail station, refusing to board a train to Debrecen refugee camp in eastern Hungary.

The protest comes just one day after Hungarian police blocked access to the station for anyone without an EU visa. The decision on Tuesday came after Hungary had already allowed thousands of refugees to board trains bound for Germany and Austria earlier this week.

But authorities are unlikely to allow refugees to board trains anytime soon, with a spokesman for the government telling Reuters that “in the territory of the EU, illegal migrants can travel onwards only with valid documents and observing EU rules.”

Hungary has seen more than 150,000 refugees crossing through its territory this year alone. The country has constructed a razor-wire barrier along its border with Serbia in an attempt decrease the flow of refugees entering its territory.

Refugees or migrants?

As media outlets across the globe continue to cover the crisis being faced by Europe, many choose to use the word migrant – though many are actually refugees.

While a migrant is someone who moves to a new place to seek work or better living conditions, a refugee is forced to leave their country due to war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Although EU officials continuously refer to Europe's situation as a “migrant crisis,” many of those entering the continent are actually fleeing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

The United Nations says clarification is important, as “the two terms have different meanings, and confusing them leads to problems for both populations.”

“We all have a role to play...to ensure that we use the right words. Because words matter. First of all, we're talking about people. We're talking about men, we're talking about women, we're talking about children. Each deserving of human dignity,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, told RT.

The EU will hold emergency talks on September 14 to discuss Europe's escalating refugee and migrant crisis.