Overview of the main changes since the previous report update

France

Country Report: Overview of the main changes since the previous report update Last updated: 24/05/24

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The previous update of the report was published in April 2022.

 

International protection

  • Key asylum statistics: In 2022, a total of 156,455 persons registered to apply for international protection in France, the main countries of origin represented being Afghanistan (23,755), Türkiye (11,420) and Bangladesh (11,295). This marks an increase compared to 120,685 applications in 2021 and 62,067 applications in 2020. The overall recognition rate at first instance stood at 27% (22.6% refugee status, 4.8% subsidiary protection), but with significant variations just among the top 10 nationalities of applicants, from 2.2% (Albania, Georgia) to 68.6% (Afghanistan). The National Court of Asylum further granted protection in 14,450 cases (which may concern single persons or families). The rate of first instance decisions overturned on appeal stood at 21%. The average length of first instance proceedings returned to levels similar to pre-covid, with an average of 158 days.  Lastly, of the approx. 131,000 applications lodged before OFPRA, 16,150 were subsequent applications, thus representing 12.3% of the total number of applications lodged.

Asylum procedure

  • Access to the territory – land borders: During 2022, France again renewed its temporary border controls, in place since 2015. Between January and October 2022 included, 72,581 decisions refusing entry were issued at the border with Italy (40,274), Spain (16,988), Belgium (10,761) and Switzerland (4,558). Reports of people being refused entry without their protection needs being taken into account at the Italian border persisted in 2022. Local authorities report almost 40,000 arrests and 33,000 returns to Italy. NGOs confirm many violations of fundamental rights continue to be observed in the main places of detention at the French-Italian border. Border controls were reinforced following Italy’s refusal to welcome the Ocean Viking NGO rescue ship in November 2022.
  • Sea crossings: French authorities detected 51,786 persons trying to cross the Channel in 2022, a 46% increase compared to 2021. 8,323 persons were rescued at sea; least 31 persons died at sea trying to join the United Kingdom in 2022. A new agreement between the UK and France related to Channel crossings was signed in November 2022. Meanwhile, 8,003 persons were arrested at sea trying to reach the overseas department of Mayotte.
  • Rescues at sea: following a refusal of Italy to welcome the Ocean Viking NGO boat operating in having rescued 230 persons in the Mediterranean Sea, and after some deliberation, French authorities allowed the Ocean Viking to port in Toulon in November 2022. However, they were not immediately granted access to the territory to apply for asylum in the regular way. Instead, this gave rise to the creation of an ad hoc temporary waiting area, in which 188 adults applied for asylum; 67 were granted access to the territory to ask for asylum (others were released for procedural issues except 2 persons returned to Mali). Despite government announcements upon arrival of the ship, no relocation seem to have been implemented to other European states.
  • Appeal: the National Court of Asylum continued to increasingly hold video hearings in 2022, with 267 video hearings up from 165 in 2021. In addition to video hearings for persons in overseas territories, there were also 35 hearing sessions from Lyon and Nancy.

Reception conditions

  • Access to reception conditions: out of the 142,940 asylum seekers with applications pending at the end of 2022 (according to Eurostat), only 100,598 persons benefitted from reception conditions according to the French reception authority OFII, meaning over 40,000 asylum seekers do not access any reception conditions (accommodation, allowance, etc) in France.
  • Withdrawal of reception conditions: in the first 7 months of 2022, OFII took 16,877 decisions of withdrawal of reception conditions. Detailed grounds are not known although refusal of orientation in the framework of national reception scheme seems be the main explanation of these high figures: between January 2021 and July 2022, 27% of asylum seekers in Ile-de-France region refused the orientation to another region.
  • Access to accommodation: at the end of 2022, according to the Ministry of Interior, 62% of asylum seekers eligible to material reception conditions – i.e. 100,598 persons in total at the end of December 2022 according to OFII – were effectively accommodated, a minor increase compared to 58% at the end of 2021. When adding those asylum seekers who do not benefit from reception conditions, this means at least 80,000 asylum seekers were not accommodated in France as of December 2022. This lack of access to accommodation was one of the several points condemned by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in its latest appraisal of France published in December 2022.
  • Accommodation – informal camps: in Calais, despite the regular dismantlement operations which continued in 2022, as of January 2023 there were still about 800 migrants living in and around Calais in makeshift camps. In 2022 and early 2023, the authorities attempted to limit the distribution of water or food, through for example as blocking vehicle access to water and food distribution sites with rocks, etc. and limiting authorised distributions only to organisations funded by the State. However, the latter were considered as illegal by the Administrative court in October 2022.

Detention of asylum seekers

  • Statistics: in 2022, 657 third country nationals lodged a first asylum application while in administrative detention, i.e. less than 2% of persons administratively detained.
  • Detention of children: France was again condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for detaining children in conditions contrary to article 3 ECHR, the prohibition of inhumane and degrading treatment (length of detention too long and/or very young children and/or unsuitable place of detention); this marks the 9th condemnation of France for detention of migrant children since 2012.
  • Detention at the border with Italy: in the context of borders controls with Italy in Alpes-Maritimes, in 2022 the border police continued to detain newly arrived asylum seekers without formal order in a “temporary detention zone”. Local authorities’ ban on NGO access to the zone were ruled unlawful.

Content of international protection

  • Civil registration: beneficiaries of international protection continued to experience long delays in receiving their civil status documents that have to be drawn up by OFPRA. Although additional resources were allocated to this mission by OFPRA in 2022, this has not yet produced any significant effect on the waiting time, in a context of increasing asylum claims.
  • Inclusion: Several programmes are in place to try and facilitate the transition, including the Accelair programme managed by Forum Réfugiés, and the 2022 newly launched government programme ‘AGIR’, influenced in large part by the Accelair programme. The programme aims to provide global support for refugee inclusion re. housing, employment and benefits. In 2022, the programme was deployed in 27 departments and should be generalised to the entire territory in 2024.

 

Temporary protection

The information given hereafter constitute a short summary of the 2022 Report on Temporary Protection, for further information, see Annex on Temporary Protection.

  • Key temporary protection statistics: according to the French border police, approx. 65,358 persons displaced from Ukraine were registered at French borders between 24 February and 31 December 2022. Numbers of temporary protection beneficiaries vary between 65,800 and 86,000 active temporary protection residence permits at the end of 2022 depending on the source, without there being an obvious explanation for the discrepancy. Arrivals of Russian nationals are not monitored however the number of asylum applications by Russian nationals, including first time and subsequent applicants, increased steadily over the year 2022, up to a 418% increase in January 2023 compared to January 2022.

Temporary protection procedure

  • Scope of temporary protection: the scope of temporary protection is the same as that of the EU decision. According to the media and NGO on the ground, hundreds of students mainly from African countries arrived from Ukraine without being eligible to protection. They initially received orders to leave French territory (OQTF). The majority were apparently repatriated to their countries of origin. In July, the French authorities invited French universities to allow the remaining students still present in France to enrol and continue their studies in France. Moreover, although data on arrivals of Russian nationals in not available. However, numbers on asylum applications by Russians rose after the beginning of the war, based on grounds related to military issues (conscientious objection, desertion, etc.).
  • Documentary evidence: in general, there were no particularly widespread problems reported. However, Ukrainian nationals without a passport and who only have the internal Ukrainian passport (movement document in Ukraine) were asked by prefectures to go to the Ukrainian embassy to receive a consular attestation that proves that they are indeed Ukrainian. Costs of travel, procedure to fulfil these requirements are borne by the applicants, or by the NGOs hosting them.
  • Information provision: overall, information provision was quite extensive. Information was provided in French, English, Ukrainian and Russian both in paper (flyers) and with many digital tools, including a regularly updated information booklet, and a ‘For Ukraine’ platform, which presents administrative information in French and Ukrainian, registers all volunteer offers (translation, interpretation, citizen accommodation), lists mobilisation initiatives from certain local authorities and collects job offers.

Content of temporary protection

  • Residence permit: contrary to other countries which provided one year permits, France decided to deliver temporary residence certificates, to be renewed automatically every 6 months rather than 1 year.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation