- Access to the territory: Reports of people being refused entry at the Italian and Spanish borders without their protection needs being assessed persisted in 2021. To investigate violations of the law at the border, a parliamentary commission on migration published a report in November 2021, recalling that “the violations of rights at borders have been abundantly documented and denounced” and that “it’s time to put an end to it”. Moreover, the number of attempts to cross the Channel to join the United Kingdom reached a record number of 28,395 persons in 2021, tripling the number of attempts in 2020. Similarly, the number of migrants rescued at sea reached 1,002 persons, which is three time higher than 341 in 2020. 2021 was also the most murderous year, with 27 persons dying at sea while trying to reach the UK.
- Key figures at first instance: In 2021, a total of 121,554 persons applied for international protection, out of which 104,577 were first time applicants. The majority came from Afghanistan, followed by nationals from the Ivory Coast, Bangladesh, Guinea and Turkey. The determining authority, the OFPRA, issued a total of 139,513 first instance decisions and the recognition rate stood at 25.5 % at first instance, while the backlog of pending cases reached a total of 49,500 cases, down from 84 000 in 2020. This significant decrease is mostly due to the significant drop in asylum applications in 2020 and to an increase in staffing at the OFPRA since September 2020. The average length of the procedure was 258 days in 2021, down from 262 days in 2020.
- Identification of vulnerability: An Action plan for the care of the most vulnerable asylum seekers and beneficiaries of protection has been published in May 2021, in order to better identify and better protect vulnerable people, notably by creating a network of “vulnerability referents” among asylum actors, to develop coordination and information sharing.
- Safe country of origin: In a decision of 2 July 2021, the Council of State removed Benin, Senegal and Ghana from the list of safe country of origin. The Council of State considered in November 2021 that the other countries could not be withdrawn but laid down a new principle on the assessment of the legality of these measures: the examination may be based on new circumstances subsequent to the establishment of the list.
- Response to the situation in Afghanistan: The situation in Afghanistan changed in 2021 with the Taliban taking over in mid-August. Following these events, France evacuated more than 2,600 Afghans who entered the asylum system and obtained protection. However, in September 2021, the CNDA decided that subsidiary protection based on the existence of a generalised conflict was no longer applicable because the takeover of the Taliban had put an end to this conflict. Protection under the Geneva Convention is of course still possible, but more difficult to obtain. Statistics on the protection rate and the type of protection granted to Afghans were not available at the time of writing of this report.
- Lack of reception capacity: In 2021, the number of asylum seekers accommodated remained far below the number of persons registering an application. At the end of 2021, only 56% of asylum seekers eligible to material reception conditions were accommodated compared to 52% at the end of 2019. The lack of reception capacity is an ongoing issue since many years resulting in homelessness and serious human rights violations.
- Inhumane living conditions: Many asylum seekers are left without accommodation and camps are regularly dismantled in big cities or in the North of France (e.g. Calais or Grande Synthe) where more than 1,000 migrants were living in early 2021 despite police repression. Human Rights Watch published a report demonstrating that people living in camps in Calais and its surroundings still have insufficient access to basic needs, such as access to water points, food supply, health care, and sanitary facilities. The French Public Defender of Rights also called on the authorities to stop systematic dismantlement operations in Calais, which appear to be carried out in complete violation of migrant’s fundamental rights. It also reiterated that dismantlement operations should strictly respect procedures, human dignity and research for durable accommodations.
- National reception plan 2021-2023: In 2021, a “national plan for the reception of asylum seekers and the integration of refugees for 2021-2023’ was published. This plan enabled a better dispatching of asylum seekers from Paris to other regions. A total of 16,000 asylum seekers, 40% of whom under the Dublin procedure, were dispatched accordingly. However, this had a negative impact on accommodation in these regions due to a lack of adequate reception capacity at local level. It is now becoming almost easier to be accommodated in Paris than in other places.
- Situation in Mayotte: In a decision of March 2021, the Council of State ruled that the authorities had seriously breached the right to asylum of a destitute Burundian mother living and her 11-year-old son in Mayotte by failing to provide adequate material reception conditions during the pending asylum procedure. At the time of the ruling, there were only 105 accommodation places in Mayotte for about 3,000 applicants for international protection, thus indicating serious reception gaps.
Detention of asylum seekers
- Detention in the context of Covid-19: By the end of 2020, the controller General of Places of Deprivation of Liberty considered that the detention framework was adapted to the crisis in certain aspects (e.g. reduction in the capacity of centres, supply of masks and hydro alcoholic gel isolation of patients etc.) but certain points remained problematic (e.g. detention of people who cannot be expelled, insufficient measures and resources in certain centres, etc.).The controller General of Places of Deprivation of Liberty renewed these concerns in January 2022, referring inter alia to the absence of vaccination campaigns inside the Administrative Detention Centres (CRA).
- De facto detention at borders: Intensified border controls in recent years have led to new forms of detention, including de facto detention in police stations at the Italian border which cannot be accessed by civil society organisations. In a decision of 23 April 2021, the French Council of State considered that denying access to NGO’s in these detention areas at the border was illegal, but refused the main request, which was the closure of these places of detention.
Content of international protection
- New global programme for refugee’s integration: In 2022, the government introduced a new global programme, named AGIR, whichaims to provide a global to refugee’s integration, concerning housing, employment and benefits.It came into force on 1 January 2022 in the most part of the territory and is largely inspired by the ACCELAIR programme of Forum Refugié – Cosi.
- Access to the labour market: During COVID-19 in 2020, unemployment increased in France, affecting also the access to the labour market for beneficiaries of international protection. In January 2021, the Ministry of Interior launched a national call for projects for the year 2021 on the integration of newcomers, including beneficiaries of international protection: 49 projects have been selected and funded for a total of 4 million EUR. Another call for project has been launched for the year 2022.
Response to the situation in Ukraine as of 1 April 2022
France transposed the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) in its national legal framework to ensure an immediate protection to people fleeing Ukraine. On 10 March 2022, an interministerial instruction outlined the implementation of the TPD at national level, which shall be applicable to the following persons:
- Beneficiaries of international protection who lived in Ukraine and who have fled from 24 February 2022;
- Third state nationals who lived in Ukraine with a long-term permit, and who are unable to return to their country of origin in safe and sustainable conditions;
- Ukrainians nationals who were temporarily present in a Member State on 24 February 2022 and who prove that their permanent residence was in Ukraine at this time;
- Members of the family of these categories, who do not have to prove their impossibility to return to their country.
Upon arrival in France, a temporary residence permit of 6 months is issued and renewable during 3 years as long as the TPD is active. Beneficiaries of the TPD have immediate access to the labour market and to health care without any waiting period (as opposed to asylum seekers). They further receive allowances for asylum seekers, housing benefits and access to French lessons through programmes dedicated to refugee integration. Children have access to the education system in the same conditions as French nationals. Family reunification is also accessible for family members who are not on the territory or who have been granted a temporary protection in another EU Member State. Access to asylum procedure remains possible for all Ukrainians including those eligible to TPD. No specific measures have been announced regarding asylum procedures for Ukrainians. In practice, a few hundred asylum applications seem to have been registered since 24 February 2022, in particular re-examinations of people previously rejected.
As regards housing, another interministerial instruction was adopted on 22 march 2022 and organises reception in two phases:
- An accommodation of very short term, implemented near the main arrival points (airports, train stations, borders) in order to ensure an emergency reception;
- An accommodation of medium term, in specialised accommodations structures, before an access to durable housing is effective.
After that, housing should be provided through social housing and local authorities. This system is complemented by additional accommodation places offered by citizens, which need to be supervised and monitored. On 23 March 2022, the Prime Minister announced the availability of 100,000 places to accommodate Ukrainians in the reception system. At the end of March 2022, the Minister Delegate for the Interior announced that 28,000 displaced persons from Ukraine had entered the territory, and 10,500 residence permits had been issued. On 1 April 2022, a total of 36,000 displaced persons from Ukraine had entered French territory, and the Minister of Labor announced that 600 companies mobilised to offer 7,000 jobs to these people.
 L. 581-1 to L. 581-10 CESEDA ; R. 581-1 to R. 581-19 CESEDA; See also: Council implementing decision establishing the existence of a mass influx of displaced people from Ukraine and introducing temporary protection, available in English at : https://bit.ly/3LCenFZ.
 Interministerial instruction concerning access to accommodation and housing for people displaced from Ukraine, beneficiaries of temporary protection, available in French at :https://bit.ly/3u4eyDY.
 Speech by French Prime Minister Jean Castex on the reception of Ukrainian refugees in France, 23 March 2022, available in French at : https://bit.ly/3r2zQA9 .