Last updated: 17 November 2023

Housing out of reach?

The reception of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe

This report provides an update to ECRE’s analysis of reception capacity for asylum seekers in Europe,1 through an assessment of major developments in the reception systems of the 23 countries covered by the Asylum Information Database (AIDA) with a particular focus on management of reception capacity in light of varying pressure on the asylum systems, as well as the implications of the continued residence of beneficiaries of international protection in facilities for asylum seekers.

While the past years have undoubtedly exposed a low level of preparedness for large numbers of arrivals of refugees and migrants in most countries, reception practice in 2018 confirms that fluctuations in the numbers of arrivals continue to create important challenges for administrations such as inability to offer accommodation to new asylum seekers, and resort to improvised emergency accommodation. This includes cases where countries have prematurely reduced their reception capacity and have become unprepared to deal with recent increases in arrivals or backlogs of pending cases.

For some countries, shortages in reception capacity are a chronic problem, regardless of fluctuations in arrivals of people seeking protection. As detailed in the report, these countries have systematically been unable to accommodate all asylum seekers on their territory and have embedded emergency accommodation as a permanent component of their system, thereby raising questions of systematic non-compliance with EU law.

Those asylum seekers who obtain a protection status face severe barriers to moving out of reception centres and securing accommodation, a right guaranteed by EU law. High rent prices and reluctance of landlords to rent their property to refugees, as well as legal ‘catch 22’ situations are frequent in practice. As a result of these barriers, status holders often continue to reside in reception facilities for asylum seekers for prolonged periods. In a number of countries, despite a series of measures established by states to ensure accommodation can be found, the above obstacles create real risks of destitution and homelessness for beneficiaries of protection.

  1. AIDA, Wrong counts and closing doors: The reception of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, March 2016, available at: https://bit.ly/1UFSKaP.

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