TENSIONS are bubbling over in a small Dutch town after an influx of migrants rocked the community leading to protests and sparking the creation of vigilante groups.
Oude Pekela, in the Netherlands, has been the scene of heated demonstrations as locals fight back against the Syrian invaders being housed there.
As cities were overwhelmed with the number claiming asylum, the Dutch government was forced to house applicants far away from built-up areas.
Shelters were hastily set up in suburbs where their presence caused friction among residents, fearful immigration was impacting their small community.
Oude Pekela resident, Heye Meyer, said: “Our community is too small for this number of people.”
And even migrants themselves acknowledge the close-knit towns they have been placed in are less than welcoming.
A refugee from Aleppo, 20-year-old Ahmad, said: “It is maybe strange for them that we are here.”
Close to the German border, the village has a scant population of just 8,000, and is seeing rise to organised groups patrolling the town.
One such group, Kameraadschap Noord-Nederland, which describes itself as a “national-minded people with a socialist heart,” has organised several protests in the area.
Another, United We Stand Holland: Protecting Our Citizens, sprung up after locals banded together to apprehend a migrant, following claims he “behaved inappropriately” toward a 12-year-old girl in a supermarket.
The police were brought in to control the crowds, and the town’s mayor was forced to use an emergency order to disperse the crowd.
Since September patrols by citizen’s groups were set up around the village.
Mayor Jaap Kuin acknowledged residents fears and promised to cut the number of people housed at the site.
Dutch citizens are turning away from incumbent Mark Rutte and his Party for Freedom and Democracy, with immigration emerging as a key issue defining next year’s elections.
The Netherlands goes to the polls in March to pick their new leader.