Types of accommodation

Germany

Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Informationsverbund Asyl und Migration Visit Website

In general, 3 types of accommodation for asylum seekers can be distinguished:

  • Initial reception centres, including particular types of centres such as arrival centres, special reception centres and AnkER-centres;
  • Collective accommodation centres;
  • Decentralised accommodation.

Emergency shelters were used in particular in 2015 and 2016 but have mostly been closed down since. One notable exception was the reception facility at the Berlin arrival centre which continued to operate on the premises of the former airport of Tempelhof where newly arrived asylum seekers were still accommodated, sometimes for several weeks, under conditions described as “inhumane” by NGOs. In December 2018, the Refugee Council of Berlin reported that 1,000 asylum seekers were still living in emergency shelters at the Tempelhof facility and in former army barracks, while more than 1,000 places in newly built facilities were not allocated to asylum seekers due to organisational problems.[1] The closure of the facility at Tempelhof was finally announced on 20 December 2018.[2] In April 2019, Tempelhof was replaced by a new arrival centre in Berlin-Reinickendorf.[3]

Moreover, a waiting room (Warteraum) in Erding was another unique facility, which served as a first arrival and distribution centre where persons could stay for 72 hours. It was closed at the end of 2019.[4]

 

Initial reception centres

 

Following the reform of June 2019, asylum seekers are generally obliged to stay in an initial reception centre for a period of up to 18 months after their application has been lodged (Aufnahmeeinrichtung).[5] An obligation to stay in these centres for a maximum of 24 months can be imposed by Federal States since July 2017.[6] Furthermore, asylum seekers from safe countries of origin are obliged to stay there for the whole duration of their procedures (see

Freedom of movement).

The Federal States are required to establish and maintain the initial reception centres.[7] Accordingly, there is at least one such centre in each of Germany's 16 Federal States with most Federal States having several initial reception facilities.

As of June 2020, the BAMF website listed 62 branch offices (including branch offices in Arrival and AnkER centres) and regional offices in 54 locations (down from 58 offices in 50 locations at the beginning of 2019).[8] In most of these places, an initial reception centre is assigned to the branch office of the BAMF, or combined with a branch office to constitute an arrival centre or AnkER centre.

Arrival centres

Since 2016, several reception centres have either been opened as arrival centres (Ankunftszentren) or existing facilities have been transformed into arrival centres. In these centres, the BAMF and other relevant authorities apply Fast-Track Processing. The concept of “arrival centres” is not established in law, therefore technically the initial reception centres are still functioning as part of the arrival centres, together with a branch office of the BAMF. As of June 2019, the BAMF lists 19 arrival centres which are located across 14 Federal States (down from 22 in 2018):[9]

  • Berlin
  • Brandenburg: Eisenhüttenstadt
  • Bremen
  • Hamburg
  • Baden-Württemberg: Heidelberg
  • North Rhine-Westphalia: Bielefeld, Bonn, Dortmund, Mönchengladbach
  • Saxony: Chemnitz, Leipzig
  • Lower Saxony: Bad Fallingbostel, Bramsche
  • Saxony-Anhalt: Halberstadt
  • Hessen: Gießen
  • Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: Schwerin
  • Thuringia: Suhl
  • Rhineland-Palatinate: Trier, Speyer
  • Schleswig-Holstein: Neumünster

AnkER centres

Since August 2018, Bavaria has established and/or rebranded all facilities run by the seven districts of the Federal State as AnkER centres.[10] These included seven AnkER centres and a number of facilities attached thereto (Dependancen), the latter serving only for accommodation of asylum seekers to avoid overcrowding. All steps of the procedure are carried out in the main AnkER centres. The AnkER centre in Donauwörth was closed at the end of 2019 after regional politicians in the district of Swabia opted for a more decentralised approach to accommodate of asylum seekers.[11]  Outside of Bavaria, there is one AnkER centre in Saxony and Saarland, respectively, for a total of 8 AnkER centres:[12]

 

AnkER centres & Dependancen in Germany

Federal State

AnkER centre

Location of AnKER Dependancen[13]

Bavaria

Manching/Ingolstadt (Upper Bavaria)

Ingolstadt: Manchingerstraße

Ingolstadt: Marie-Curie-Straße

Ingolstadt: Neuburgerstraße

Munich: Funkkaserne

Munich: Am Moosfeld

Garmisch

Waldkraiburg

Fürstenfeldbruck 

 

Deggendorf (Lower Bavaria)

 

Hengersberg

Osterhofen

Stephansposching 

 

Regensburg: Zeißstraße (Upper Palatinate)

Regensburg: Pionierkaserne

Schwandorf 

 

Bamberg (Upper Franconia)

 

Zirndorf (Middle Franconia)

Nuremberg: Beuthener Straße

Nuremberg: Witschelstraße

Roth

Neuendettelsau 

 

Schweinfurt (Lower Franconia)

 

 

 

Saxony

Dresden

Saarland

Lebach

Total

8

17

 

Collective accommodation centres

 

Once the Obligation to Stay in Initial Reception Centres ends, asylum seekers should, “as a rule”, be accommodated in “collective accommodation” centres (Gemeinschaftsunterkünfte, GU).[14] These accommodation centres are usually located within the same Federal State as the initial reception centre to which the asylum seeker was sent for the initial reception period.

Prior to the introduction of AnkER centres, when the Federal State of Bavaria operated “transit centres”, it had been reported that persons who had to be transferred out of the transit centre to GU were in reality not physically moved out of the centre. Instead a section of the facility was reclassified as GU and people stayed there; in some cases even the same room was requalified as such, which meant that they formally were considered to have left the transit centre. Nevertheless, they remained subject to the same house rules of the transit centre.[15]

According to the “geographical restriction”, asylum seekers are obliged to stay in the district to which they have been allocated for the whole duration of their procedure, i.e. including appeal proceedings (see Freedom of Movement). The Federal States are entitled by law to organise the distribution and the accommodation of asylum seekers within their territories.[16] In most cases, states have referred responsibility for accommodation following the initial reception period to municipalities. The responsible authorities can decide at their discretion whether the management of the centres is carried out by the local governments themselves or whether this task is transferred to NGOs or to facility management companies.

Decentralised accommodation

For many municipalities the establishment and maintenance of collective accommodation has often not proven efficient, in particular against the background of decreasing numbers of asylum applications from the mid-1990s onwards, and especially between 2002 and 2007. Accordingly, many collective accommodation centres were closed during that period and municipalities increasingly turned to accommodating asylum seekers in apartments.

Statistics on the year 2019 are not available. For the year 2018, the German Federal Statistical Office recorded the following numbers for accommodation of “recipients of benefits under the Asylum Seeker's Benefits Act”. It has to be noted that this law applies not only to asylum seekers, but also to people with a “tolerated stay” (Duldung) and even to certain groups of people who have been granted a temporary residence permit. Among these groups, there are many people who have been staying in Germany for several years and therefore are more likely to live in decentralised accommodation than asylum seekers whose application is still pending:

 

Recipients of asylum seekers benefits in the Federal States: 31 December 2018

Federal State

Initial reception centres

Collective accommodation

Decentralised accommodation

Total

North Rhine-Westphalia

13,522

47,617

37,341

98,480

Bavaria

7,750

30,124

26,640

64,514

Baden-Württemberg

4,099

20,288

22,110

46,497

Lower Saxony

2,583

9,135

28,088

39,806

Hesse

1,557

18,194

9,449

29,200

Berlin

3,060

6,399

15,637

25,096

Saxony

763

13,388

7,046

21,197

Rhineland-Palatinate

2,964

2,083

11,491

16,538

Schleswig-Holstein

1,394

1,277

13,091

15,762

Brandenburg

1,637

8,721

4,892

15,250

Hamburg

2,515

945

7,743

11,203

Sachsen-Anhalt

1,387

3,605

3,753

8,745

Thuringia

418

3,673

3,768

7,859

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

483

3,044

2,326

5,853

Bremen

16

1,040

2,642

3,698

Saarland

59

959

495

1,513

Total

44,207

170,492

196,512

411,211

 

Source: Statistisches Bundesamt, Empfängerinnen und Empfänger nach Bundesländern: https://bit.ly/2UtNxZW. This includes both asylum seekers and people with tolerated stay (Duldung).

Although Section 53 of the Asylum Act provides that asylum seekers “should, as a rule, be housed in collective accommodation” following the initial reception period, the above figures show that policies vary considerably between the Federal States.[17] In some states such as North Rhine-Westphalia or Brandenburg, most asylum seekers are indeed living in this type of accommodation. In contrast, there are other Federal States, including Rhineland-Palatinate, Hamburg or Lower Saxony, in which the majority of recipients of asylum seekers' benefits are staying in so-called “decentralised accommodation”, so usually in apartments of their own.[18] The latter might also at least partially be the result of authorities generally being  more restrictive when it comes to issuing (long-term) holders of a tolerated stay with residence permits, which would entitle them to regular social benefits.



[1] Refugee Council Berlin, ‘Gesamtkonzept zur Integration und Partizipation von Geflüchteten in Berlin: Viel Worte statt Taten’, 17 December 2018, available in German at: https://bit.ly/2YDmkD3.

[2] Berlin.de, ‘Senat beginnt Schließung des Flüchtlingszentrums Tempelhof’, 20 December 2018, available in German at:  https://bit.ly/2uGkGCM.

[3] Berlin.de ‚Neues Ankunftszentrum für geflüchtete Menschen im Berliner Bezirk Reinickendorf ab 29. April 2019‘, April 18 2020, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3f5iDhs.

[4] Süddeutsche.de, ‘Warteraum Asyl außer Betrieb‘, 17 December 2019, available in German at: https://bit.ly/38A98Eu.

[5] Section 47(1) Asylum Act.

[6] Section 47(1b) Asylum Act.

[7]Section 44(1) Asylum Act.

[8] BAMF, Locations, available at: https://bit.ly/2Z74Uko.

[9] BAMF, Locations, available at: https://bit.ly/2Z74Uko.

[10] Süddeutsche Zeitung, Das sind die sieben neuen Ankerzentren in Bayern, 1 August 2018, available at https://bit.ly/2MeAYKy.

[11] Bayrischer Rundfunk, Ankerzentren: Augsburger Flüchtlingsrat begrüßt neuen Kurs, 28 June 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2NJxyC1.

[12] BAMF, Locations, available at: https://bit.ly/3i38BPN.

[13] Anker-Watch.de, ANKER-Zentren und Dependancen, available at: https://bit.ly/3ewPdbE

[14] Section 53 Asylum Act.

[15] ECRE, The AnkER centres Implications for asylum procedures, reception and return, April 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2W7dICZ.

[16] Section 10 Asylum Seekers' Benefits Act.

[17]  An analysis of these figures cannot be conclusive since it is complicated by apparent inconsistencies in the statistics. For example, it is unlikely that at a given date more than 10,000 asylum seekers were staying in the initial reception centres of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Apparently, other types of state-run accommodation were included in this figure as well.

[18] It is possible, though, that some Federal States subsume smaller types of collective accommodation under “decentralised” housing as well.

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation