22:35 GMT +321 August 2018
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    Residents of the Bavarian transit center (Bayerisches Transitzentrum) for asylum seekers stand in front of an office building, in Manching, near Ingolstadt, southern Germany, on May 15, 2018

    First Asylum-Seeker Transit Center Opens in Germany

    © AFP 2018 / Christof STACHE
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    EU leaders have agreed to set up a number of “controlled” centers in EU member-states as part of an accelerated procedure of sending undocumented migrants to their home countries

    The first “Anker” (“Arrival,” “Return”) center has just opened in the southern German state of Bavaria to process migrants accruing in the country through the Austrian border, Deutsche Welle reported.

    The idea behind the centers, which are part of the "migration master plan" proposed by German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, is that asylum seekers will be kept there until their right to stay is determined.

    Seven such centers, each holding between 1,000 and 1,500 refugees, will be built in Bavaria to make sure that all the relevant government agencies required to complete the entire asylum process are present at one site.

    The plan has invited criticism from church groups, refugee advocates and opposition parties who describe the centers as deportation camps and warn that this could lead to the “ghettoization” of migrant communities.

    Last-Minute Deal

    The centers are the result of a last-minute political deal between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. His initial plan to turn migrants away right at the country’s border sparked a political crisis which threatened to unravel the coalition government of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, their Bavarian sister party the CSU and the Social Democrats.

    READ MORE: Germany to Create First Federal Migrant Processing Center By Fall

    While Bavaria has agreed to host the migrant transfer centers, other German states have so far refused to follow suit.

    European countries have been experiencing a severe migration crisis since 2015 due to the influx of thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa. The EU’s existing Dublin Regulation allows for migrants to be sent back to the country where they first entered the bloc.

    Related:

    Germany to Build Deportation Centers for Unwanted Migrants – Reports
    Over 10 EU Countries Ready to Help Germany in Deporting Migrants – Reports
    Tags:
    criticism, plan, opening, migrant transit center, Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), Horst Seehofer, Angela Merkel, Germany
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