Decisions for admission in accommodation places for asylum seekers, as well as for exit from or modification of the place of residence, are taken by OFII after it has consulted with the Director of the place of accommodation. The specific situation of the asylum seeker has to be taken into account.
Accommodation facilities for asylum seekers under the national reception scheme (dispositif national d’accueil, DNA) are:
- Accommodation centres for asylum seekers (CADA);
- Emergency accommodation for asylum seekers (HUDA, AT-SA, PRAHDA, CAO);
- Reception and administrative situation examination centres (CAES).
Asylum seekers accommodated in these facilities receive a certification of address (attestation de domiciliation). This certification is valid for one year and can be renewed if necessary. It allows the asylum seeker to open a bank account and to receive mail.
According to the national reception scheme principle, an asylum seeker who has registered his or her claim in a specific Prefecture might not necessarily be accommodated in the same region. The asylum seeker has to present him or herself to the accommodation place proposed or the region assigned by OFII within 5 days. If not, the offer is considered to be refused and the asylum seeker will not be entitled to any other material reception conditions.
The management of reception centres is subcontracted to the semi-public company Adoma or to NGOs that have been selected through a public call for tenders, such as Forum réfugiés – Cosi, France terre d’asile, l’Ordre de Malte, Coallia, French Red Cross etc. These centres fall under the French social initiatives (action sociale) and are funded by the State. Their financial management is entrusted to the Prefect of the Département.
As of the end of 2020 the national reception scheme had the following capacity across the different regions:
|Capacity of the national reception scheme: 31 December 2020|
|Hauts de France||2,751||3,061||420||6,232|
|Ile de France||5,760||12,676||894||19,330|
|Pays de la Loire||2,582||2,950||200||5,732|
Source: Ministry of Interior, ‘Information relating to the management of the accommodation facilities for asylum seekers and refugees’, 15 January 2021, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2ZjKsfP.
In 2020 the number of asylum seekers accommodated remained far below the number of persons registering an application. At the end of the year, the Ministry of Interior stated that 51% of asylum seekers eligible to material reception conditions – i.e. 145,253 persons in total at the end of December 2020 – were effectively accommodated compared to 48% at the end of 2019. If we add asylum seekers who do not benefit from reception conditions, we can consider that at least 90,000 asylum seekers were not accommodated in France as of the end of 2020. In 2018, only 44% of asylum seekers registered by Prefectures in 2018 effectively obtaining accommodation. ECRE’s report on the reception conditions of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe demonstrates that France has consistently fallen short of its obligations to provide accommodation to all asylum seekers on its territory, despite a considerable expansion of its reception infrastructure and a proliferation of types of accommodation.
Available figures show that a substantial number of applicants were left out of accommodation every year. These persisting issues raise questions of compliance with the Reception Conditions Directive as reception conditions should ensure an adequate standard of living for applicants. As regards the decrease of first-time applicants in 2020, it is largely due to the impact of COVID-19 and does not reflect the fact that reception capacity is still lacking, given that many other asylum seekers were already present on the territory.
In practice, it remains the case that many reception centres have been organised to receive families or couples, thereby making it difficult for single men or women, to be accommodated. Moreover, if the asylum seeker has not succeeded in getting access to a reception centre before lodging his or her appeal, the chances of benefitting from one at the appeal stage are very slim. In case of a shortage of places, asylum seekers may have no other solutions than relying on night shelters or living on the street. The implementation of the national reception scheme intends to avoid as much as possible cases where asylum seekers are homeless or have to resort to emergency accommodation in the long run, yet gaps in capacity persist.
At the end of 2020, 10% of the places in accommodation centers were occupied by individuals who were no longer authorised to occupy these places such as rejected asylum applicants or beneficiaries of international protection after the period of authorized presence, and 4% of the places were vacant. 4,500 new places (3,000 in CADA and 1,500 in CAES) will further be opened for asylum seekers in 2021.
Reception centres for asylum seekers (CADA)
Asylum seekers having registered a claim are eligible to stay in reception centres. Asylum seekers under a Dublin procedure are excluded from accessing these centres. CADA can be either collective or individualised housing, within the same building or scattered in several locations. Reception centres can be either collective or individualised housing, within the same building or scattered in several locations. A place in the centres for asylum seekers is offered by OFII once the application has been made.
At the end of 2019, out of a total 41,342 places in CADA, 16% were beneficiaries of international protection and 7.6% were rejected asylum seekers (in authorised stay or not). More recent statistics are not available.
Emergency reception centres
Given the lack of places in regular reception centres for asylum seekers, the State authorities have developed emergency schemes. Different systems exist:
- A decentralised emergency reception scheme: emergency accommodation for asylum seekers (hébergement d’urgence dédié aux demandeurs d’asile, HUDA), counting 46,445 emergency accommodation places at the end of 2020. Capacities provided by this scheme evolve quickly depending on the number of asylum claims and capacities of regular reception centres. A part of this places are in hotel rooms.
- Reception and accommodation programme for asylum seekers (programme regional d’accueil et d’hébergement des demandeurs d’asile, PRAHDA), managed at national level. It consists of housing, in most cases in former hotels, for 5,351 persons who have applied for asylum or who wish to do so and who have not been registered.
Asylum seekers who fall under the Dublin procedure in France can in theory benefit from emergency accommodation up until the notification of the decision of transfer, while Dublin returnees are treated as regular asylum seekers and therefore benefit from the same reception conditions granted to asylum seekers under the regular or the accelerated procedure. In practice, however, many persons subject to Dublin procedures (applicants or returnees) live on the streets or in squats because of the overall lack of places.
Reception and administrative situation examination centres (CAES)
A new form of accommodation has emerged in 2017 Reception and Administrative Situation Examination Centres (centres d’accueil et d’examen de situation administrative, CAES) combine accommodation with an examination of the person’s administrative situation, in order to direct the individual to other accommodation depending on whether he or she falls within an asylum procedure, a Dublin procedure or a return procedure. Almost 3,000 places in such shelters have been created in 2018 and 150 new places in 2019. 3,136 places were available at the end of 2020. In some regions, CAES are designed for people coming from camps, while in others they serve vulnerable asylum seekers whose application has been registered, pending referral to CADA or emergency reception. No further data on the activity of CAES are available, as the OFII considers this places as ‘unstable’ and therefore does not take them into account in the reception system described in its activity report.
Asylum seekers left without accommodation
Despite the increase in reception capacity and creation of new forms of centres, a number of regions continue to face severe difficulties in terms of providing housing to asylum seekers. As stated above, only about 51% of asylum seekers eligible for material reception conditions were accommodated at the end of 2020.
In Paris, there are still several informal camps as of early 2021, despite many dismantlement operations by the authorities. In January 2020, authorities lead the 60th dismantlement operation since 2015 and 1,436 migrants have thus been accommodated in emergency centers following the operation. On 17 November 2020, a camp with about 2,800 migrants has been dismantled near Paris but solutions were not offered to everyone. As a result, on 23 November 2020, about 500 migrants (mainly from Afghanistan) supported by NGOs have settled in a large square in Paris (Place de la République) to protest and request accommodation solutions. The evacuation of the square was carried out with the use of excessive force including attacks with teargas, shock grenades and truncheons against migrants, journalists and protestors. The French Human Rights Defender (Défenseur des droits) ensuring human rights and freedom under the French constitution as well as the General Inspectorate of the National Police (Inspection générale de la Police nationale – IGPN) launched investigations. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović also confirmed that she is following them closely. The conduct by police has been widely condemned by NGOs and politicians.
In Calais, regular dismantlement operations have been carried out since 2015, as described in the previous updates of this report. Yet, hundreds of migrants were still living in makeshift camps in Calais area throughout 2020. In January 2020, NGOs stated that 850 migrants were in Calais and surrounding, and in July 2020, this number increased to 1,200 migrants according to NGOs (700 to 750 according to authorities). Following a visit to the informal camp in Calais in September 2020, carried out upon the request of 13 NGOs, the French Public Defender of Rights noted sub-standard living conditions. An estimated 1,200-1,500 people, including women with young children and unaccompanied children, were sleeping in the woods, including in bad weather conditions. They experienced harassment by police during evacuations. Sanitary facilities were far from living areas, with only one water point; and measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 were insufficient. The Public Defender of Rights expressed particular concerns about the situation of women and children. The lack of specific facilities for women makes them particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation and gender-based violence. Children, some only 12-14 years old, were at risk of falling prey to illegal networks.
At the end of September 2020, the largest dismantlement operation since 2016 took place in Calais with about 800 migrants directed to accommodation centres. According to figures from Human Rights Observers (HRO), a non-profit that monitors police evictions in northern France, 973 evictions took place in Calais in 2020, with police confiscating and destroying belongings. In December alone, 526 tents were seized, and 41 arrests were made. Reports of abuse, excessive force and violence have described children being teargassed, a person inside a tent being dragged by a tractor, and a man shot in the face with a rubber bullet from 10 metres, hospitalising him for two months. These evictions have contributed to pushing hundreds of migrants into the streets without any shelter, while weather conditions during winter have become very harsh.
In recent years, Courts have also condemned the situation in Calais. In July 2017, the Council of State ruled that state deficiencies in Calais exposed migrants to degrading treatment and enjoined the State to set up several arrangements for access to drinking water and sanitary facilities. In a report published in December 2018, the Ombudsman denounced a “degradation” of the health and social situation of migrants living in camps in the north of France, with “unprecedented violations of fundamental rights”. On 21 June 2019, the Council of State ordered the northern prefecture of France to adopt important sanitary measures to support around 700 migrants living near a sport hall of the commune of Grande-Synthe. The application to proceedings for interim measures had been filed by 9 civil-society organisations and the commune of Grande-Synthe. It demonstrated that both the inhumane living conditions of the migrants and the failure to act of the Government were a violation of the migrant’s fundamental rights. Following the decision of the Council of State, the French prefect had 8 days to adopt numerous sanitary measures such as installing water points, showers and toilets, but also to provide information to migrants on their rights in a language they understand.
On 10 February 20201, the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) issued an opinion where it stated that, five years after its previous visit on site, the dignity of the people exiled in Calais and Grande-Synthe is still being violated. It confirms that in 2020 more than 1,000 evictions were carried out in Calais, and 33 evictions in Grande Synthe. Access to drinking water, food, showers, toilets as well as basic health services is not guaranteed. It calls for the re-establishment of a dialogue and cooperation between all the stakeholders involved in order to ensure the protection and dignity of the concerned individuals. It also recalls the best interest of the child and the necessity to introduce guarantees for unaccompanied minors as well as vulnerable groups such as women or victims of human trafficking.
In some other cities (Nantes, Grande Synthe, Metz) migrants often live in the street. Some of them are asylum seekers eligible for accommodation centers but not housed due to the lack of places. The issue of homelessness in France has also been scrutinised by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). On 2 July 2020, the ECtHR published its judgment in N.H. and others v France concerning the living conditions of homeless asylum applicants as a result of the failures of the French authorities. The case concerns 5 single men of Afghan, Iranian, Georgian and Russian nationality who arrived in France on separate occasions. After submitting their asylum applications, they were unable to receive material and financial support and were therefore forced into homelessness. The applicants slept in tents or in other precarious circumstances and lived without material or financial support, in the form of Temporary Allowance, for a substantial period of time. All of the applicants complained, inter alia, that their living conditions were incompatible with Article 3 ECHR. However, in the case of B.G. and others v. France, the ECtHR unanimously ruled on 10 September 2020 that, inter alia, the living conditions in a French tent camp on a carpark did not violate Article 3 ECHR. 
Evolution of the capacity of the different types of accommodation
Although the capacity of CADA – the main form of reception for asylum seekers – has been steadily developed throughout the years, France has exponentially increased the capacity of emergency accommodation through the creation of PRAHDA and the expansion of local HUDA from 11,829 places in mid-2016 to 51,796 places at the end of 2020.
This means that the emergency accommodation network (PRAHDA, HUDA) is more important than the CADA and formally forms part of the national reception system. It appears therefore that “emergency accommodation” in France no longer serves the purpose of temporarily covering shortages in the normal reception system. In fact, as already explained, it is the default form of accommodation for certain categories of asylum seekers such as those under a Dublin procedure, since they are excluded altogether from CADA.
 Article R.744-1 to R.744-4 Ceseda.
 French Government, Budget law 2021, Annex. October 2020, available in French at : https://bit.ly/3d1P4zd.
8. Le Monde, ‘Evacuation d’un campement de plus de 2 800 migrants au pied du Stade de France’, 17 November 2020, available in French at : https://bit.ly/3jM8eug.
10. Le Monde, ‘Le point sur l’évacuation du camp de migrants à Paris : coups de matraque et « chasse à l’homme », indignation politique et enquêtes de l’IGPN’, available in French at : https://bit.ly/3rVwdKr.
11. Infomigrants, ‘Opération de “mise à l’abri” à Calais après un mois d’évacuations successives’, 28 January 2020. Available in French at : https://bit.ly/38WPzoG.
12. La Voix du Nord, ‘Migrants de Calais: tensions lors de démantèlements de campements ce vendredi’, 10 July 2020, available in French at : https://bit.ly/3rJXhfu.
15. Le Monde, ‘A Calais, un campement de migrants démantelé, les associations dénoncent une « opération de communication »’, 29 September 2020, available in French at : https://bit.ly/3aZ9PbU.
 The Guardian, ‘’Like torture’: Calais police accused of continued migrant rights abuses’, 13 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3dcYnML; ECRE, ‘France: Evictions Continue amid Winter Emergency while Council of State Allows Preventing Media Access’, 12 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3s0KQfv.
 Council of State, Order No 412125, 31 July 2017.
 Ombudsman, Exiles et droits fondamentaux, trois ans après le rapport Calais, 19 December 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2GIf7uS.n practice, in practices varies widely. er day to 25 €)ype of , 19 e of persons selected but it appears through OFII communic
 France TV Info, ‘Nord : la préfecture condamnée à prendre des mesures sanitaires et à organiser des maraudes pour les migrants à Grande-Synthe’, 21 June 2019, available in French at : https://bit.ly/2w0zPTL.
 National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH), Calais et Grande-Synthe Les atteintes à la dignité et aux droits fondamentaux des personnes exilées doivent cesser, 11 February 2021, available in French at: https://bit.ly/3jTdTPg.