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The AnkER centres: Implications for asylum procedures, reception and return

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The coalition agreement between German federal coalition partners CDU, CSU and SPD from February 2018 and the implementation of a “plan for asylum” elaborated in the State of Bavaria on 5 June 2018 foresaw the roll-out of Arrival, Decision and Municipal Distribution or Return Centres (Ankunft, Entscheidung und kommunale Verteilung bzw. Rückführung, AnkER-Zentren) in each district of Bavaria. 1 The model, envisioned as a pilot project to be evaluated by 2020,2 builds on previous types of centres established in three Bavarian districts, which took the form of Transit Centres (Transitzentren) in Manching/Ingolstadt, Regensburg and Deggendorf.3

The concept of an AnkER centre is to be understood as a single location concentrating all relevant authorities and actors in the process, as well as accommodating asylum seekers. The aim of the centralisation of all relevant actors is an acceleration and linkage of the asylum, Dublin and, where relevant, return procedure. While the asylum procedure is under federal responsibility, reception and return fall within the competence of Federal States.

On 1 August 2018, each of the seven districts of Bavaria established an AnkER centre, while the Federal State of Saarland has introduced one AnkER centre in Lebach, and Saxony has established one AnkER centre in Dresden and is planning to set up two more. 4 The Federal Ministry of Interior has sought to establish AnkER centres as a blueprint to be replicated more broadly across Germany. Other federal states have similar centres, albeit without adopting the “AnkER” label.

This report analyses the AnkER model implemented in the Federal State of Bavaria from the perspective of the asylum and Dublin procedure and return on the one hand, and reception and detention conditions on the other. It presents the findings of a fact-finding visit to Germany conducted between 1 and 5 April 2019, during which the ECRE delegation visited:

  • The initial reception centre at Frankfurt Airport, where it met with representatives of the Church Refugee Service;

  • Frankfurt, where it met with representatives of PRO ASYL;

  • Munich, where it met with representatives of the Bavarian Refugee Council and the Max Planck Institute for Law and Social Policy;

  • Erding, where it met with representatives of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) and the German Red Cross;

  • Regensburg, where it met with representatives of Caritas, BI Asyl, the Refugee Law Clinic Regensburg, Campus Asyl, Amnesty International and other stakeholders;

  • The pre-removal detention centre of Eichstätt, where it met with representatives of the Bavarian State Ministry of Justice;

  • The AnkER centre of Manching/Ingolstadt, where it met with the District Government of Upper Bavaria and the Bavarian State Ministry of Interior;

  • The airport facility of Munich Airport, where it met with representatives of the Church Service;

  • The pre-removal detention centre of Munich Airport (“Hangar 3”), where it met with representatives of the Bavarian State Office for Asylum and Returns (LfAR).

Information and data gathered from interviews and observations made in the various sites visited are complemented by desk research and authoritative sources on the AnkER centres and the asylum procedure in Germany.

The report is structured into three chapters: Chapter I analyses the main aspects of the AnkER centre and provides an account of the functioning of the asylum procedure, the Dublin procedure and forced return; Chapter II looks at reception conditions such as freedom of movement, accommodation, access to education, employment and health care; and Chapter III discusses the conditions in the pre-removal detention centres of Eichstätt and Munich Airport. A final section contains general conclusions and recommendations to relevant German authorities.