The tide of refugees from Bosnia's war has surged in Berlin, and the city is running out of room. Haggard newcomers - about 200 arrive daily - are being put up in gyms and converted shipping containers.

The situation is making attempts to bring together family members stranded in different countries even more difficult.Berlin has 30,000 registered refugees from the Balkans war, the most of any city outside former Yugoslavia. Providing for them costs about $880,000 a day.

"We are reaching the end of the rope," said Dieter Heckelmann, Berlin's top security official who also oversees refugee housing. "It can't go on."

The flood shows no signs of abating; the refugee count has tripled since spring. Every day, new arrivals line up at a receiving center beside a canal where a newly docked barge serves as a waiting room.

They get temporary residence permits and are directed to overworked agencies that arrange for housing, welfare payments, medical care.

Heckelmann is among leading Berliners who want to start sending newcomers to former Soviet barracks or empty asylum homes in Brandenburg state in former East Germany. Bosnians resist the idea because of hostility to foreigners and the desolate rural surroundings.

Berlin has had relatively few anti-foreigner attacks, which cannot be said for former East Germany. There, many people resent war refugees getting welfare payments while Germans are unemployed.

A tough new law took effect over the summer that aims to stem the influx of asylum-seekers who are not fleeing war or political persecution. Bosnians are allowed into Germany under the law as long as they can persuade immigration officials that they are fleeing the war.

This city of 3.5 million has also become a cultural mecca for Bosnians. Most writers, doctors and other professionals who fled Bosnia after it was plunged into war 20 months ago have come to Berlin.

There are virtually no jobs for these people, however, let alone homes.

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"These people are losing their minds," said Zlatan Cabaravdic, a 39-year-old Sarajevo journalist and former Bosnian information minister who has been in Berlin nearly a year.

His wife and 15-year-old son have been in Switzerland for more than a year and he is grappling with bureaucrats trying to get them to Germany - a problem for many Bosnians.

European governments have been reluctant so far to bring together very many splintered Bosnian families, hoping the war might soon end.

Nearly 300 refugees live in one home, actually four converted containers with four communal kitchens and shared bathrooms. Typically, families of four are crammed into 7-by-13-feet rooms.

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