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 dedomiciliation). 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 2021the national reception scheme should had the following capacity across the different regions (forecast data published in January 2021 but not confirmed by consolidated reports):
|Capacity of the national reception scheme: 31 December 2021|
|Hauts de France||2,901||3,061||630||6,592|
|Ile de France||5,760||12,676||894||19,330|
|Pays de la Loire||2,832||2,950||320||6,102|
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 2021 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 59% of asylum seekers eligible to material reception conditions – i.e. 111,901 persons in total at the end of December 2021 – were effectively accommodated compared to 51% at the end of 2019.If we add asylum seekers who do not benefit from reception conditions, we can consider that at least 70,000 asylum seekers were not accommodated in France as of the end of 2021. 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.
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, 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 2021, 11% 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.4,900 new places (3,400 in CADA and 1,500 in CAES) could be opened for asylum seekers in 2022 if the budget foreseen for financial allowance for asylum seekers is respected.
Reception centres for asylum seekers (CADA)
Asylum seekers having registered an application for international protection 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 2020, out of a total 43,454 places in CADA, 15.4% were beneficiaries of international protection and 8.1% 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 2021. 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 called Reception and Administrative Situation Examination Centres (centres d’accueil et d’examen de situation administrative,CAES). They 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. There were a total of 2,942 places available at the end of 2020 in 34 CAES; and 4,636 places at the end of 2021. 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 these facilities 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 59% of asylum seekers eligible for material reception conditions were accommodated at the end of 2021.
In Paris, there are still several informal camps as of early 2022, despite many dismantlement operations by the authorities. In 2020, 8,691 migrants had been evacuated from camps and accommodated as part of 19 operations carried out by the authorities, including a violent evacuation in November 2020 widely condemned by NGOs, media and politicians. From January to mid-October 2021, 6,377 persons had been evacuated from the Parisians camps.Other dismantlement operations have been reported at the end of 2021, and at the beginning of 2022.A coordination unit to deal with these situations has been set up in January 2021, bringing together the authorities and associations.The implementation of a national reception scheme, allowing better orientation from the Paris region to accommodation in other regions, has enabled the orientation of more than 16,000 migrants in 2021 (see above). However, some NGOs report numerous cases of people who could not be accommodated following these operations or who were placed in detention.
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 2021.In 2021, NGOs stated that more than 1,500 migrants were in Calais and its surroundings, compared to 500 according to the authorities.Following a visit to the informal camp in Calais in September 2020, carried out upon the request from 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.A report published by Human Rights Watch in 2021 stated that people living in camps in Calais and surroundings have still an insufficient access to basic needs, such as access to water point, food supply, health care, and sanitary facilities.
Furthermore, in reaction to the sinking of a small boat during the Channel crossing on 24 November 2021, in which 27 persons died, the French Public Defender of Rights reiterated its previous recommendations made in 2015 and 2018. It asked for the halt of systematic dismantlement in Calais, which appears to be done in complete violation of migrant’s fundamental rights. It also underlines that every dismantlement should strictly respect procedures, human dignity and research for durable accommodations.
At the end of 2021, Human Rights Observer (HRO), an organisation which monitors police evictions in northern France, stated that approximately 1,100 dismantlement operations took place in Calais and surroundings throughout 2021. During all these operations, HRO stated that 10,121 tents were seized, 205 people were arrested, and 127 migrants were victims of police brutality. During a dismantlement at the end of December 2021, confrontations were reported between police officers and migrants. During the operation, 15 police officers and 3 migrants have been injured. At the beginning of January 2022, a substantial police operation has been organised in the same place, to complete the dismantlement. About 100 police officers were deployed in order to evacuate a camp of 50 migrants.
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 2021, 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.
On 16 November2021, one of the largest dismantlement operations happened in Grande-Synthe. Approximately 1,200 persons were evacuated, during a substantial operation involving more than 300 police officers. NGOs stated that this large operation has led to the placement of all the persons in accommodations centres, but under duress, and without any interpreter to inform them of the implication of this procedure.
In reaction to the living conditions of migrants in Calais, 3 human rights activists started a hunger strike on 11 October 2021 for a period of 38 days. They asked for the suspension of dismantlement operations, at least during the winter period, and to stop seizing tents and migrant’s personal effects.A mediator was sent in Calais by the government to hold discussions with the activities. He offered a systematic accommodation for migrants after the dismantlement operations, as well as the end of unannounced dismantlement operations. Migrants would thus be informed in advance of dismantlement operations to allow them to collect their personal effects.
As a result, an accommodation centre with a capacity of 300 places opened in Calais in November 2021, but NGOs stated that this proposal was not adapted to the reality of migrant’s situation. This accommodation closed its doors quickly after its opening as the government announced the creation of a similar structure elsewhere in the region.
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 2021.
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 2022, Annex. October 2021, available in French at :https://bit.ly/3LRZJeB.
 French Government, Budget law 2022, Annex. October 2021, available in French at :https://bit.ly/3LRZJeB.
 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.
 Human Rights Watch, « Infliger la détresse : Le traitement dégradant des enfants et des adultes migrants dans le nord de la France », October 2021, available in French at : https://bit.ly/3t2NAfw.
 France 3 Région, 2 janvier 2022, « Calais : après les affrontements de jeudi, les policiers reviennent en force pour déloger les migrants du même camp », available in French at : https://bit.ly/3KBmzpr.
 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.
 France 3 Région, « Calais : après la grève de la faim, une nouvelle action de longue durée pour rendre visible le sort des réfugiés », 15 janvier 2022, available in French at : https://bit.ly/3t2uxC5.
 Le Monde, « Didier Leschi : l’action des grévistes de la faim a fait apparaître une incohérence dans la politique mise en œuvre », 1er novembre 2021, available in French at : https://bit.ly/3MFSTJI.