27 February 2015

The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, has denounced serious and chronic deficiencies in the French reception system for asylum seekers, which is leaving many asylum seekers, including families, sleeping rough or reliant on precarious emergency accommodation.

Only 33% of applicants for international protection in France had access to a reception centre for asylum seekers (CADA) and approximately only 2,200 places are made available by the temporary reception service (ATSA). Consequently, most asylum seekers are forced to rely on emergency accommodation; numbering, for example, 24,600 in 2013. During his visit to France from 22 to 26 September 2014, the Commissioner met asylum seekers and unaccompanied children from Afghanistan and Sub-Saharan countries living in the streets. Asylum seekers without stable accommodation must receive a daily allowance of 11,20 €, an insufficient amount for people to meet their basic needs.

With regard to unaccompanied children, the Commissioner was informed that many of them are detained at France’s borders, not always separated from adults, thus exposing them to possible abuse and exploitation.

Furthermore, Commissioner Muižnieks urged France to remove the obstacles that prevent Syrian refugees from seeking asylum in France, and in particular the obligation, since January 2013, for Syrians to obtain an airport transit visa. The Commissioner also noted that, although the French authorities had committed in October 2013 to resettle 500 Syrian refugees, less than half of them had actually been resettled by September 2014, at the time of the Commissioner’s visit.

Moreover, the Commissioner called on France to find durable solutions to the critical situation of migrants in Calais and to better protect them from xenophobic violence.

Muižnieks also warned that “despite advances in legislation and measures to combat intolerance and racism, discrimination and hate speech not only persist in France but are on the rise.”

In 2014, in France, 57,230 people applied for asylum.


This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 27 February 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.


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