Reception centres (CADA) are the main form of accommodation provided to asylum seekers. They include both collective and private accommodations that are located either within the same building or in scattered apartments. There are 303 of them spread across the French territory,1 therefore the following description is a general assessment that cannot cover the specific situation to be found in all CADA.
Living conditions in regular reception centres for asylum seekers are deemed adequate, and there are no official reports of overcrowding in reception centres. The available surface area per applicant can vary but has to respect a minimum of 7m2 per bedroom. A bedroom is usually shared by a couple. More than 2 children can be accommodated in the same room. Centres are usually clean and have sufficient sanitary facilities. Asylum seekers in these centres are usually able to cook for themselves in shared kitchens. The 2011 Circular relating to the missions of reception centres for asylum seekers also foresees that the sharing of flats has to be considered to preserve a sufficient amount of individual living space.2
None of these centres are closed centres. Asylum seekers can go outside whenever they want but they cannot leave for more than 5 days without informing the centre staff. If they do so, their living allowance can be suspended.3 The 2011 Circular encourages staff working in CADA centres to organise cultural activities to mitigate the inactivity of the persons accommodated there. Leisure activities such as sport activities or excursions are sometimes organised. However, as per their defined missions at the end of 2015,4 CADAs are only supposed to facilitate contacts with local organisations providing cultural and social activities. In practice, many structures organise cultural projects in their centres such as gardening, scrap-booking, museum visits, etc.
As per the 19 August 2011 Circular, the staff working in reception centres also has the obligation to organise a medical check-up upon arrival in the reception centre. In the context of the application of the reform of the law on asylum,5 this medical check-up has to be done at the latest 15 days after arrival while it was 8 days before.
The staff ratio is framed by the 29 October 2015 Decree; a minimum of 1 fulltime staff for 15 to 20 persons is required. Staff working in reception centres is trained.
Awareness-raising sessions are sometimes organised in the reception centres and the “planned parenthood” (Planning Familial) teams sometimes conduct trainings on the issue of gender based violence. In some reception centres, there are information leaflets and posters on excision and forced marriages.
Collective emergency facilities, unlike the housing of asylum seekers in hotels, offer at least some sort of administrative and social support. In theory, only accommodation is provided in the context of these emergency reception centres. Food or clothing services may be provided by charities. However, reception conditions within the emergency facilities are similar to those in regular reception centres.
Reception conditions are very different from one CAO to another. Each centre must have a capacity of 50 places. The structures running these centres benefit from funds to receive the asylum seekers on the basis of a daily cost of €25, including housing and three meals. This daily cost is higher than that estimated for CADA (on average €19.50) and emergency facilities (on average €15.97 in HUDA and €15.65 in AT-SA).6 The Ministry of Interior’s instructions state that people accommodated must stay for a three month period, during which the structures have to encourage them to make a decision regarding their administrative orientation e.g. towards the asylum procedure.7
In practice, different types of CAO exist. Some of these centres have been created to respond the demand of the government. In several regions, municipalities have offered to house the asylum seekers in leisure centres, in camping sites or in unoccupied facilities, such as schools or hospitals.8
- 1. National Assembly, Information report on the evaluation of of reception polciy for asylum seekers, 4 October 2016.
- 2. See section I.1.2 of the Circular NOR IOCL1114301C of 19 August 2011 on the missions of reception centres for asylum seekers.
- 3. Article D.744-35 Ceseda.
- 4. Decree of 29 October 2015 on missions’ statement of CADAs.
- 5. Decree of 29 October 2015 on the general rules of functioning of CADAs.
- 6. National Assembly, Information report on the evaluation of of reception polciy for asylum seekers, 4 October 2016, based on estimates of the Ministry of Interior as of January 2016.
- 7. Circular N°INTK1615585J of 29 June 2016 regarding the creation of new places in accommodation and orientation centres.
- 8. For an example of the diversity of the types of structures accommodating asylum seekers, please see, France 3 Bretagne, ‘Carte : Où sont hébergés les migrants de Calais en Bretagne?’, 25 October 2016, available in French at: http://bit.ly/2jPmVMD.