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Flash Audit
February 2023
An immediate response from the public authorities
Ever since the war broke out in Ukraine late February 2022, France has taken in just
under 115,000 people, mainly women and children. As soon as the Council of the European
Union implemented its decision on 4 March 2022 to introduce temporary protection for
Ukrainian refugees for the first time, the public authorities in France sprang into action in
response to initial estimates that 100,000 people could seek refuge in the country. A crisis task
force was set up on 9 March to ensure a coordinated government-wide response. The various
prefectures took immediate on-the-ground action while associations and local authorities
engaged with the cause to provide appropriate conditions for receiving the first influx of
Ukrainian nationals.
During the first three months, arrivals were concentrated in the metropolitan areas and
border territories of eastern France, where more than 80,000 people were taken in. In the main
cities, reception centres were sometimes set up in the most unexpected formats, including a
hall in the Paris exhibition centre, a 1,600-capacity ferry in Marseille, and one of the many sites
opened by central government services, local authorities and associations. These venues were
instrumental in delivering a truly concerted response and an initial shelter for the refugees
arriving in the country.
Massive and specific solutions for accommodating and housing refugees
Accommodation has mainly been focused in the metropolitan areas and has represented
a major challenge for these tension-fraught areas, since they are already overwhelmed by the
need to support and shelter other vulnerable groups. Nevertheless, over 87,000 places have
been created, nearly 60,000 of which were still active by the end of 2022. Collective
accommodation (emergency reception, hotels or similar) that is directly financed by the State
represented one third of the country's response, with a unit cost that is almost double the cost
of the facilities offered to traditional asylum seekers. This cost was due to the urgent need to
provide shelter and the uncertainty surrounding the duration of the conflict. Driven by the
unprecedented number of French people rallying to the cause, host families have played an
essential role and accounted for over 40% of the accommodation solutions. Several aspects
of this new scheme, such as supervision, support and sustainability, require greater
clarification, but the decree of 17 November 2022 on compensation for hosts fails to provide a
clear answer.
Finally, although proposals for permanent accommodation have been moving forward
since the autumn, putting those proposals into action is still an uphill struggle due to lingering
doubts about the duration of the conflict and refugees' own economic situation.
Extended access to rights
Temporary protection status, which implies short-term "asylum" without any desire for
long-term settlement, grants additional rights to beneficiaries in comparison to asylum seekers
under ordinary law, especially in terms of family benefits, housing, healthcare, education and
access to employment. As such, the key to an effective reception system lies in the speed at
which residence permits are issued, which are a prerequisite for entitlement to those rights.
The initiative of setting up refugee reception centres, which have since become real hubs
the main cities, has met this need. By December 2022, some 85,000 residence permits were
active, and 45,000 asylum seeker allowances had been paid. At the same time, some 10,599
households were receiving family or housing benefits, healthcare cover
had been granted to
107,000 people, and 19,000 children were still in school.
Issues relating to the enduring conflict
By the end of 2022, the influx of displaced persons from Ukraine to France was still
growing at a rate of 2,000 to 4,000 refugees per month. Enabling these people to continue
living in France at a time when the conflict shows no signs of letting up combined with the
prospect of seeing a new wave of refugees enter the country caused by an escalation in the
conflict raises a number of question marks about the sustainability of the current arrangements
for taking in refugees, along with the implication that changes need to be made.
Questions hang over the human and financial capacity to provide long-term care and
support. The conditions for ending temporary protection status also need to be defined, bearing
in mind that this EU measure can last from one to three years.
There are currently no guarantees that host family accommodation and the ability to
maintain compensation for accommodation providers can be stabilised. At the same time, the
issue of easing housing and accommodation restrictions in metropolitan areas, particularly
Paris, has been high on the agenda since the summer of 2022. This situation calls for refugee
facilities to be distributed more evenly across the country, which the State is endeavouring to
promote for displaced persons. Increased support for employment will be needed to improve
access to housing.
In terms of the financial cost, the State released a €400
million credit package when the
crisis broke out, but the costs of providing accommodation and asylum seeker allowances
alone have exceeded this amount, with expenditure representing €482 million by late
November 2022. In total, all the aid schemes are ex
pected to reach between €621 million and
4 million over the whole of 2022. The Court of Accounts did not carry out an audit into the
management and compliance of these appropriations during the course of this investigation.
As such, the failure to incorporate appropriations into the 2023 Budget Act will deprive
all stakeholders of the visibility that they need to organise their means for action going forward.
As of 30 September 2022.
Anticipate and clarify the conditions for ending care and support for beneficiaries of
temporary protection (Prime Minister).
Ensure greater oversight of the refugee hosting scheme where funding is provided by the
State (Prime Minister).
Increase visibility of the funding arrangements in the budget to support Ukrainian refugees
for 2023 and make provisions for the necessary appropriations (Prime Minister).