Refugee Spaces

A Bartlett Materialisation Grant project

The Cities of Refuge platform aims to stimulate and demystify, through substantiated assessments, the ways in which the current refugee wave has been represented in Europe, particularly by bridging insular experiences into a wider continental dialogue.

Introduction

Introduction

Despite numerous migrant waves through the decades, the current influx of refugees and asylum seekers into Europe has been framed by very specific narratives. From humanitarian calls for action to warnings of impending collapse, Europe thinks of itself under a crisis, at a political breaking point that justifies extreme discourses and measures.

The Refugee Spaces data project aims to stimulate and demystify the phenomena through examining the evidence rather than speculating on the so-called crisis. Through mapping and analysis of the openly available data provided by institutional and governmental sources, the platform attempts to spatialise the political and security measures designed to contain migration and the mobility of refugees.

We understand that migration and refuge are in a permanent state of flux, so this platform can only represent a snapshot of a specific period, in part constrained by reliability and availability of the data. Since we started this project, migration has played a more influential impact on political issues across Europe and the rest of the world, becoming sometimes the centrepiece of polarising campaigns and radical partisanship.

Brexit, the surprising success of populist agendas in some important national elections across Europe and elsewhere are just a few examples of how migratory issues have been used, and manipulated, for radical change. Security borders and sovereign intromission have expanded to Africa and Asia; the policing of the Mediterranean is now an established security regime; and humanitarian initiatives, to help refugees in peril, have been often criminalised.

In the following maps, the project shows a cartographical analysis of spatial responses and the administrative infrastructure brought by migration and refugees, stressing on the territorial relationships that associate mass movement with urban hotspots in four selected countries: France, Germany, Greece and Italy. Further countries can be added to the platform in the future. At the urban scale, the project identifies urban clusters/regions that are integral to current migration influxes, exploring their different strategies for reception and control.

Refugee Spaces has been funded by the 2016 Bartlett (UCL) Materialisation Grant. The project is a collaboration between the Development Planning Unit (DPU), Space Syntax Laboratory (the Bartlett School of Architecture), and the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA). The information presented on this platform is not intended to be a conclusion, but a departing point to track the spatial and economic impact of migration on European territories. We hope and anticipate that the output of this project could be used as a base for further research and collaborative work on European refugee and migration phenomena in future.“ The report, available to download, contains reflections and preliminary work done in preparation of the platform.

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Team

This project was created through a collaboration between the Development Planning Unit (DPU), Bartlett School of Architecture (BSA), and the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London. The project was funded through a Bartlett Materialisation Grant.

The project team included Camillo Boano, Giovanna Astolfo, Ricardo Marten, Falli Palaiologou, Keyvan Karimi, and Ed Manley, with Gala Nettelbladt, Tahmineh Hooshyar Emami and Asimina Paraskevopoulou.

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Go to Maps

Given the limited data availability on centres’ location, this map does not provide useful insights in terms of the spatialisation of reception in urban and rural areas in Germany. Instead, it highlights gaps in datasets, as well as the differences in terms of open-access transparency of the reception governance systems – both across the country’s regions and when comparing Germany to the other case studies.

The map shows centres’ location - urban or rural - for year 2016, based on Eurostat classification of spatial units:

  • ‘cities and greater cities’
  • ‘functional urban areas’;

and remaining centres as rural areas. The location is approximate, showing the town where the centre is located. For the Eurostat classification of spatial units see here.

Capacity

The Königssteiner Schlüssel - a federal quota system - is used to allocate refugees according to tax revenues and total population, for year 2016. Numbers show distribution percentages for federal states out of a total of 100,00000%.

Upon arrival via land or air, refugees are registered at any of the closest reception centre and subsequently proportionately distributed across the Federal States following a specific quota system (known as Königssteiner Schlüssel) for allocating refugees according to tax revenues and total population of the respective Federal State. This has not been without criticism. The Königssteiner Schlüssel had initially been an instrument for the distribution funds of research institutions between the national government and the Federal States and thus has been declared unsuitable as mechanism of reception for refugees. For example, due to the nature of this distribution system, large cities experience a higher burden, as it does not consider factors such as higher population densities, particular housing conditions or secondary migration patterns.

Description

The map shows centres’ capacity for year 2016. Where the value is ‘0’ data is not available.

References and sources

  • See an overview from 2010 – 2016: http://www.gwk-bonn.de/themen/koenigsteiner-schluessel/
  • Geis, W., Orth, AK. 2016. Flüchtlinge regional besser verteilen: Ausgangslage und Ansatzpunkte für einen neuen Verteilungsmechanismus
  • http://www.makingheimat.de/fluechtlingsunterkuenfte/datenbank [Accessed 17 March 2018]
  • https://fluechtlinge.hessen.de/unterkuenfte/neues-standortkonzept-zur-fluechtlingsunterbringung [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • https://www.lds.sachsen.de/asyl/?ID=9271&art_param=724 [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • http://www.integration-migration-thueringen.de/fachdienst/content/tlvwa.htm [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • http://www.saarland.de/748.htm [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • http://www.soziales.bremen.de/soziales/zuwanderungsangelegenheiten/ansprechpartner__innen_und_aufgaben_31-48213 [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • http://www.schleswig-holstein.de/DE/Landesregierung/IV/Presse/_functions/Kontaxbox_Presse.html [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • http://www.berlin.de/laf/ [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • https://add.rlp.de/de/themen/fluechtlinge-in-rheinland-pfalz/fluechtlinge-ehrenamt/ [Accessed 24 August 2017]

Generally, reception centres can be categorised following a two-tier system. Firstly, asylum seekers are accommodated in initial reception centres, managed by the federal states. Secondly, they are transferred to communal centres or decentralised accommodation, which are in turn administered by municipalities. The state of Bavaria provides an exceptional case, where the different administrative regions oversee the second stage of accommodation, and not the municipalities. The city states of Berlin and Hamburg form another exception, where a one-tire system is in place, and the administration of the federal state is in charge of all accommodation.

Initial Reception Centres (Erstaufnahmeeinrichtungen, EAE): regional centres created and managed by the federal states. The initial reception centre is usually the place where the asylum application is filed. Officially, asylum seekers live there for up to six weeks, but no longer then six months.

Communal accommodation (Gemeinschaftsunterkünfte) or decentralised housing (dezentrale Unterkünfte): housing at the level of municipalities (Kommunen). After registration and a first stay at the initial reception centre, asylum seekers are distributed to municipalities within the state, according to other quota systems, differing in each state. Accordingly, the types of accommodation can also vary greatly and can range from large communal accommodations to rented flats. This has been criticised in a report for the Robert Bosch Foundation, calling for a common, transparent and accountable distribution system in municipalities across the Federal States

Emergency Shelters: Since the peak of migration in the summer of 2015, many EAEs as well as communal accommodations have been created almost from scratch. Due to the large influx and lack of capacities, use was made of gyms and vacant residential buildings. In addition, tents and lightweight construction halls were erected to accommodate the asylum seekers.

Since 2015, it is further important to note two other category of centres:

  1. Arrival Centres (Ankunftszentren): A total of 25 centres was initiated by the BAMF across the 16 federal states since 2015. By working closely with each of the respective federal state, the aim is to speed up the asylum process by combining all necessary steps under one roof (accommodation, medical examination, collection of personal information, filing of application, decision on asylum).
  2. Special Reception Centres (‘besondere Aufnahmeeinrichtungen): In February 2016, the Asylum Package II (Einführung beschleunigter Asylverfahren, or short: Asylpaket I) was passed, further tightening asylum legislation. It introduced so-called ‘special reception centres’ (besondere Aufnahmeeinrichtungen) in which asylum seekers from ‘safe countries of origin’, asylum seekers who file a second application and refugees who either destroyed their documents, or are assumed to have done so, can be kept in in order to accelerate their asylum procedure. Only two of them have been established in 2016 in Bamberg and Manching/Ingoldstadt

The Federal States are responsible for detention, including detention pending deportation (Abschiebungshaft). In accordance with German law, detention is only ordered once an asylum application has been rejected. National law merely provides basic rules for detention facilities. Consequently, the conditions vary greatly.

Detention

The map shows centres’ typology for reception centres and housing projects, open or under construction in year 2016. The location is approximate, showing the town where the centre is located.

  • Asylum in Europe. 2017. Types of Accommodation – Germany. http://www.asylumineurope.org/reports/country/germany/reception-conditions/housing/types-accommodation
  • Katz, B. 2016. Cities and Refugees – The German Experience
  • http://www.makingheimat.de/fluechtlingsunterkuenfte/datenbank [Accessed 17 March 2018]
  • http://www.hamburg.de/fluechtlingsunterkuenfte/ [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • https://fluechtlinge.hessen.de/unterkuenfte/neues-standortkonzept-zur-fluechtlingsunterbringung [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • http://www.regierung.oberfranken.bayern.de/buerger_und_staat/migranten/asylbewerber/index.php#ae_ofr [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • https://www.land.nrw/de/faq-frage-und-antwort/fluechtlingshilfe-2 [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • http://www.lab.niedersachsen.de/standorte/standorte-der-landesaufnahmebehoerde-niedersachsen-143388.html [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • https://www.lds.sachsen.de/asyl/?ID=9271&art_param=724 [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • http://www.masgf.brandenburg.de/cms/detail.php/bb1.c.438767.de
  • http://www.integration-migration-thueringen.de/fachdienst/content/tlvwa.htm [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • https://im.baden-wuerttemberg.de/de/migration/auslaender-und-fluechtlingspolitik/karte-erstaufnahmeeinrichtungen/ [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • http://www.saarland.de/748.htm [Accessed 24 August 2017]

Authority

Generally, there are three operational models for the running of reception centres: they are either operated by the public authorities themselves, welfare organisations or private organisations. However, a common tendency is the privatisation and economisation of reception centres. This is particularly the case in communal accommodations, where private operators are increasingly recruited. According to a report by the Robert Bosch Foundation, this is due to the fact that often the public bodies or welfare organisation are not able to invest into facilities and that the contracting authorities are interested in negotiating a cost-efficient price; Private companies usually provide cheaper services, as they often compromise over staffing or social and pedagogical care, rendering the reception of asylum seekers a lucrative business.

In particular, the role of private security companies has been criticised. For example, in 2014, a case in North Rhine-Westphalia was revealed where the staff members of a private security firm had right-wing, extremist backgrounds and were abusing the residents of the reception centre where they were working.

It is important to emphasise though, that the information about who runs the centres remains opaque and there is no nation-wide data on the way centres are operationalised.

Access to NGOs is highly dependent on the place of residence. In some reception centres, welfare organisations or refugee councils have regular office hours or are located close to the centres so asylum seekers can easily access the offices of such organisations. However, offices of NGOs do not exist in all relevant locations and in any case, access to such services is not systematically ensured.

In many ‘arrival centres’ access to NGOs is even more difficult, as there are not always established structures of NGOs that exist in the town or region where the new offices are located.

The state of Baden-Württemberg forms an exception, where a law from 2014 (Flüchtlingsaufnahmegesetzt, FlüGA), outlining the guidelines of initial reception, states that every asylum seekers is entitled to qualified social- and procedural counselling at initial reception centres.

The map shows centres’ governance for year 2016. The location is approximate, showing the town where the centre is located.

References and sources

  • Aumüller, J., Daphi, P., Biesenkamp, C. 2015. Die Aufnahme von Flüchtlingen in den Bundesländern und Kommunen. p. 47
  • Kalkmann, M. 2017. Country Report: Germany. p. 52
  • http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/das-geschaeft-mit-den-fluechtlingen-boomt-14076977.html [Accessed 24 August 2017]
  • http://www.landesrecht-bw.de/jportal/;jsessionid=A631CBFAA221F9B57BC66C07A07C6492.jp91?quelle=jlink&query=Fl%C3%BCAG+BW&psml=bsbawueprod.psml&max=true&aiz=true#jlr-Fl%C3%BCAGBW2014pP6 [Accessed 24 August 2017]

The reception conditions of refugees in Germany are determined by the legal framework shaping the asylum process (Asylverfahrensgesetz). While the national government holds responsibilities for providing the overall legislation and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge, BAMF) oversees the asylum procedure, the 16 Federal States (Länder) are exclusively in charge of implementing the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz). That is, the Federal States hold the competences in providing accommodation and coverage of basic needs. As they have traditionally resolved the issues of new arrivals through different measures (e.g. accommodation standards, support on site), the circumstances and capacities of reception facilities can vary significantly. Consequently, there has been no common policy around reception centres and it is not possible to generalise the actual reception situations, especially regarding the number of facilities, capacity and occupancy. Further, the different Federal States have diverging policies on how to collect and publish data on reception centres. Consequently, across the country there is no comparable information available on the specific conditions of reception. Still, tracing the legal framework of reception in Germany, it is possible to characterise the reception system as follows.

Since 2015 policy is changing at a fast pace, whereby the German state is introducing new laws, essentially immobilising asylum seekers. With regards to reception centre, the following measures are important to mention. In October 2015 the so called Asylum Package I (Asylverfahrensbeschleunigungsgesetz, or short: Asylpaket I) was passed, which aimed at ‘speeding up’ the asylum process. The new policies essentially reintroduced the deterrence measures applied in the 1990s, when Germany experienced its last substantial increase of asylum seekers, following the civil war in Ex-Yugoslavia. Instead of formally three months, now asylum seekers have to spend up to six months in initial reception centres (Erstaufnahmeeinrichtungen, EAEs). Refugees from so-called ‘safe countries of origins’ can be required to spend the duration of their entire asylum procedure at an EAE.

During the stay in the EAEs, asylum seekers are not allowed to work, and only receive non-cash benefits in many federal states, which hinders a self-determined way of life. It is usually not possible to be accommodated outside an EAE. If asylum seekers already have family members living in Germany, they may not move into proximity with them. Further, victims of abuse or particularly vulnerable people, like women or children, are equally obliged to stay in EAEs.

In addition, the immobility of asylum seekers is enhanced through an extension of the so-called residence obligation (Residenzpflicht), which can now also last until up to six months. The Residenzpflicht requires asylum seekers to remain in an assigned district (Landkreis). This denial of freedom of movement had previously been abolished in 2014, but has now been re-introduced. In case the asylum seeker leaves the assigned district without authorisation, a fine of 2,500 Euros can be charged. In case of a second offence, a one-year prison sentence is possible.

Furthermore, following the new Integration Act (Integrationsgesetz), which was issued in July 2016, the so-called domicile requirement (Wohnsitzauflage) was introduced. It is linked with social benefits, meaning that those asylum seekers, or even already recognised refugees who are on social benefits, cannot chose their place of residence, e.g. if they do not have a job offer at the preferred place of residence. At the moment, the domicile requirement is only implemented by the state of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.

Lastly, in February 2016, the Asylum Package II (Einführung beschleunigter Asylverfahren, or short: Asylpaket I) was passed, further tightening asylum legislation. It introduced so-called ‘special reception centres’ (besondere Aufnahmeeinrichtungen) in which asylum seekers from ‘safe countries of origin’, asylum seekers who file a second application and refugees who either destroyed their documents, or are assumed to have done so, can be kept in in order to accelerate their asylum procedure. Only two of them have been established in 2016 in Bamberg and Manching/Ingoldstadt.

  • Aumüller, J., Daphi, P., Biesenkamp, C. 2015. Die Aufnahme von Flüchtlingen in den Bundesländern und Kommunen. [Online]. Robert Bosch Stiftung. [Accessed 5 July 2017]. Available at http://www.bosch-stiftung.de/content/language1/html/publikationen.asp?output=html&action=detail&guid=2a76f960-0b2f-4dc9-a7db-5aa8fa23fe7d&language=de&back=back
  • Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung (BBSR) im Bundesamt für Bauwesen und Raumordnung (BBR). 2017. Nutzung von Nichtwohngebäuden zur Unterbringung und Wohnraumversorgung von Flüchtlingen. Ein Sondergutachten im Rahmen des ExWoSt-Forschungsfeldes „Umwandlung von Nichtwohngebäuden in Wohnimmobilien“. [Online]. Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung (BBSR) im Bundesamt für Bauwesen und Raumordnung (BBR). [Accessed 10 June 2017]. Available at: http://www.bbsr.bund.de/BBSR/DE/Veroeffentlichungen/BBSROnline/2017/bbsr-online-07-2017-dl.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=3
  • Geis, W., Orth, AK. 2016. Flüchtlinge regional besser verteilen: Ausgangslage und Ansatzpunkte für einen neuen Verteilungsmechanismus. [Online].Robert Bosch Stiftung. [Accessed 10 June 2017]. Available at: http://www.bosch-stiftung.de/content/language1/downloads/IW_Gutachten_Regionale_Verteilung_von_Fluechtlingen.pdf
  • Kalkmann, M. 2017. Country Report: Germany. [Online]. European Council on Refugees and Exiles. [Accessed 5 July 2017]. Available at: http://www.asylumineurope.org/reports/country/germany
  • Katz, B. 2016. Cities and Refugees – The German Experience. [Online]. The Brookings Institute. [Accessed 10 June 2017]. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/research/cities-and-refugees-the-german-experience/
  • Mouzourakis, M. et al. 2016. Wrong counts and closing doors: The reception of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe. [Online]. European Council on Refugees and Exiles. [Accessed 10 June 2017]. Available at: http://www.asylumineurope.org/sites/default/files/shadow-reports/aida_wrong_counts_and_closing_doors.pdf
  • Müller, A. 2014. The Organisation of Reception Facilities for Asylum Seekers in Germany. [Online].European Migration Network. Directorate General Home Affairs, European Commission. [Accessed 10 June 2017]. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/networks/european_migration_network/reports/docs/emn-studies/10a.germany_national_report_reception_facilities_en_final.pdf
  • Pichl, M. 2016. ‘Die Asylpakete I und II: Der politische und rechtliche Kampf um die Asylrechtsverschärfungen’ in Hess, S. Kasparek, B. (eds.) Der langer Sommer der Migration: Grenzregime III. Assoziation A: Berlin. pp. 163 – 175.
  • Wendel, K. 2014. Unterbringung von Flüchtlingen in Deutschland. Regelungen und Praxis der Bundesländer im Vergleich. [Online]. Förderverein PRO ASYL e. V. [Accessed 10 June 2017]. Available at: https://www.proasyl.de/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Laendervergleich_Unterbringung_2014-09-23_01.pdf

  • http://www.gwk-bonn.de/themen/koenigsteiner-schluessel/
  • http://www.asylumineurope.org/reports/country/germany/reception-conditions/housing/types-accommodation
  • http://www.bamf.de/EN/DasBAMF/Aufbau/Standorte/Ankunftszentren/ankunftszentren-node.html
  • http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/fluechtlinge-zehntausende-leben-noch-immer-in-notunterkuenften-a-1135497.html
  • https://www.mannheim.de/de/service-bieten/soziales/fluechtlinge-und-asylbewerber/fluechtlinge-in-unserer-stadt
  • http://www.anwalt.org/asylrecht-migrationsrecht/wohnsitzauflage/
  • http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/das-geschaeft-mit-den-fluechtlingen-boomt-14076977.html
  • Pro Asyl: https://www.proasyl.de/hintergrund/asylpaket-i-in-kraft-ueberblick-ueber-die-ab-heute-geltenden-asylrechtlichen-aenderungen/

Methodology

The very nature of Germany’s reception system renders generating nation-wide data about reception centres very difficult: Federal States hold the competences in providing accommodation and coverage of basic needs. As they have traditionally resolved the management of new arrivals through different measures, the circumstances and capacities of reception facilities can vary significantly. Further, the different Federal States have diverging policies on how to collect and publish data on reception centres. Thus, across the country there is no comparable information available on reception arrangements.

Information about the EAEs was generated through the consultation of the Länder’s website or in direct correspondence with the respective press offices during May and June 2017. However, this information only generates a partial overview, as it was not possible to obtain data from all Federal States.

References

  • Mouzourakis, M. et al. 2016. Wrong counts and closing doors: The reception of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe.

Data Download

All the data gathered by this project are available to download. Please select a dataset from the dropdown below to see its description.