CFDA: A third of asylum seekers are forced to rely on emergency shelters for housing in France’s inadequate reception system

by zoejardiniere

15.02.13 Two thirds of asylum seekers in France are forced to rely on emergency homelessness services rather than designated asylum housing services, according to a new report.
The study by Coordination Française pour le Droit d’Asile (CFDA) -that brings together 20 French organisations- reveals inconsistent levels of treatment of asylum seekers across different prefectures of France and a general decrease in standards of reception. Delays to being able to access asylum procedures are growing, as is the length of the procedure once it is embarked upon (587 days on average in 2011), placing additional strain on the overburdened system; this despite French President François Hollande’s 2011 election campaign pledge to cut the time taken to determine an asylum claim to six months.
Despite a four-fold increase in accommodation capacity to 21,689 places since 2000, there has been an increase in the backlog of people trying to access these provisions. The most important factor in causing delays, according to the report, has been the successive reforms to the system that have complicated its administration.
Asylum applicants subject to Dublin II procedures wait months without access to social services to hear if they are to be sent to another EU Member State; even applicants who don’t face Dublin transfers wait excessive lengths of time for the substantive examination of their claims. And all this, the report highlights, for an ever-increasing cost to the public.
The report recommends in-depth reform of asylum procedures and reception provisions, advocating the shift of responsibility in this area back to prefectures in order to minimise delays, as well as the simplification of procedures for the fair and effective examination of asylum claims.
For further information:
 CFDA, Press Release: An asylum system that has run out of steam (in French), 13 February 2013
 La Cimade, Anarchic management of reception system, (in French), 13 February 2013
 La Cimade, Press Release: Right to Asylum in France: a meticulous and engaging state of play (in
ECRE Weekly Bulletin – 15 February 2013
French), 13 February 2013