The activities and tasks entrusted to all reception centres are defined in a decree of December 2018 and include:
- Information about rights and obligations in the centre;
- Information on the asylum procedure;
- Information on health;
- Information on reception rights;
- Accompaniment for schooling of children;
- Social, voluntary and recreational activities;
- Preparation and organisation of exit from accommodation.
However, the budget allocated to these centres varies from 15 € to 25 € per person according to the type of accommodation, and activities vary widely in practice.
Conditions in CADA
Although the use of other types of accommodation has consistently increased throughout recent years (see Evolution of the capacity of the different types of accommodation), 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. In 2020, there were 46,632 places in CADA spread across the French territory, 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 reports of overcrowding in reception centres. The available surface area per applicant can vary but has to respect a minimum of 7.5 m2 per person. 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 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.
The staff ratio is framed by the 2019 Decree; a minimum of 1 fulltime staff for 15 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.
The average length of stay in CADA in 2019 was 524 days, (compared to 451 in 2018, 424 days in 2017 and 484 days in 2016). The average length of stay in CADA in 2020 was not available.
Conditions in emergency centres
In asylum seekers’ emergency centres, unlike the housing of asylum seekers in hotels, facilities 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.
Where centres are overcrowded, applicants can also be accommodated in hotel rooms. To illustrate, 13% of places in HUDA were in hotel rooms at the end of 2020.
Conditions vary substantially across the different types of facilities. As regards CAO, a 2017 evaluation by UNHCR has reported living conditions in CAO to be satisfactory overall.
In 2019, a new inter-ministerial instruction was issued and obliges emergency accommodation centres for homeless persons (which differs from emergency centers for asylum seekers) to communicate the list of people accommodated there to the OFII. This measure risks calling into question the principle of unconditional reception of migrants, as undocumented migrants may no longer approach the emergency shelters if they know that they will be flagged to the authorities. The National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) also requested the withdrawal of this instruction on the same legal grounds, further contending that it violates the country’s international obligations relating to human rights of migrants. According to the Ministry of Interior, information transmission “remains insufficient and heterogeneous, especially in Ile-de-France region” as only 2,204 asylum seekers had been identified in emergency accommodation centers from October 2019 to December 2020. 
 Article R.744-6-1 Ceseda, inserted by Article 18 Decree n. 2018-1159 of 14 December 2018.
 OFII, 2019 Activity report, 29
 UNHCR, L’expérience des centres d’accueil en France, October 2017, 19-20.
Inter-ministerial instruction of 4 July 2019 on the cooperation between Integrated reception and orientation services (SIAO) and the OFFI as regards the reception of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection, available in French at : https://bit.ly/2TFR8T6.
10. Ministry of Interior, ‘Schéma national d’accueil des demandeurs d’asile et d’intégration des réfugiés 2021-2023’, 17 December 2020, available in French at : https://bit.ly/3tOyhFK. 14