Germany bans New Year’s fireworks at refugee shelters

An aid group is asking New Year's revelers to "refrain from using very loud fireworks in close proximity to refugee shelters." The group and government officials cite fire and trauma concerns.

(CNN)Germany is banning fireworks in many refugee shelters because of fire hazards, but also so people who have been traumatized by war are not reminded of bomb and grenade explosions, according to German media reports.

North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, will not allow the use of fireworks in any refugee shelters, Die Welt and Spiegel Online report.

“We make those living in our shelters aware that no firecrackers may be set off for safety reasons, and therefore they should not buy any,” Christoph Soebbeler, the spokesman for the city of Arnsberg, told Die Welt.

Soebbeler said the move was also designed to protect refugees from war-torn countries from further trauma. “People who come from war zones associate explosions with shots and bombs rather than with New Year’s rockets,” he said. “This could cause trauma to be relived.”

Arnsberg’s fire department went one step further, calling on the general population to refrain from excessive use of fireworks out of respect for those fleeing conflict.

“Maybe it is worth the thought of not using firecrackers at all this year,” the fire department wrote on its official website. “This would help to prevent people who have fled their homes to our country from having to relive the horrors that threatened their life and well-being in their countries of origin.”

In the east German state of Saxony, the aid group Johanniter Unfall-Hilfe also called on residents to be cautious when using firecrackers.

“Out of a sense of responsibility for traumatized children among the refugees, the Johanniters of Saxony asks to refrain from using very loud fireworks in close proximity to refugee shelters,” the group said in an online statement.

“Of course this is not meant to diminish the fun of the traditional New Year’s fireworks,” the head of Saxony’s Johanniter, Dietmar Link, was quoted as saying. “But because of the many children who have been heavily traumatized by war and violence, it should go without saying that fireworks should be used responsibly in proximity to refugee shelters.”