In 2015, following the migration crisis, France committed itself to receiving asylum seekers located in other European countries, in accordance with decisions taken by the Council of the European Union.
The transfer of asylum seekers between Member States of the European Union is called: relocation.
It is organised when one or more EU countries are faced with such a large influx of migrants that they cannot accommodate them properly.
Based on the principle of solidarity, France is one of the European countries that has welcomed some of the migrants that had arrived in countries that were already under migratory pressure, namely Italy, Greece and Malta.
Since 2016, 9,433 people have been relocated to France.
It is within this framework that in 2021, the OFII participated in 17 relocation operations of asylum seekers, notably those rescued by the Open Arms, Rubattino and Captain Morgan boats. These relocations involved 268 people.
The Open arms ship during a rescue operation
Countries of transfer to France in 2021
Italy: 3 relocations involving 53 persons
Malta: 3 relocations involving 70 persons
Greece: 11 relocations involving 145 persons
Out of 268 individuals relocated in 2021, 19 nationalities were represented. The most represented nationality is Afghan, representing 39% (105 Afghans), followed by Sudanese, with 23% (61 Sudanese) and in third position comes the Eritrean nationality, representing 15% of the total (40 Eritreans).
National and European actors
The OFII in France
The OFII is one of the main actors involved in these operations. All the more as several of its directorates were associated. Under the coordination of the Directorate of Immigration, Return, Reintegration and International Affairs, the Asylum Directorate, the Medical Service Directorate and the Territorial Directorates played a major role in the successful organisation of these operations. Arrivals at the various airports in France also required the active assistance of the OFII’s travel service.
Outside of the OFII
Apart from the OFII, other actors contributed to the smooth running of operations at national level:
The Directorate-General for foreign nationals in France (DGEF), the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the International Security Cooperation Directorate (DICS).
In the context of the joint operations of unaccompanied minors and young adults, characteristic of the year 2021, the Ministry of Justice and the Departmental Councils.
Reception by the territorial directorates of the OFII
- The Territorial Directorate in Bordeaux
The Territorial Directorate in Bordeaux, in collaboration with the Territorial Directorates in Poitiers and in Limoges, has coordinated three relocation operations at regional level for 2021.
Relocated people board on a bus that will take them to their destination
- The Territorial Directorate in Besançon
The Territorial Directorate in Besançon was involved in the organisation of three relocation operations. 104 persons have been transferred towards four departments of Franche-Comté.
59 people, mainly Afghan citizens coming from Greece, plus 20 others, mainly Sudanese coming from Malt and 25 Sudanese and Eritrean coming from Italy.
These operations were organised in close collaboration with the OFII’s Territorial Directorate in Strasbourg, since they were landing in the Basel-Mulhouse international airport.
- The Territorial Directorate in Lyon
For the year 2021, the Lyon Territorial Directorate had a single operation in December, concerning 6 people: 3 isolated men: 2 Eritreans and 1 Sudanese.
The OFII in Italy
An OFII agent, Liaison Officer posted in Rome, liaises with the local French authorities, the European Commission Representation in Italy, the European Union Agency for Asylum and the International Organisation for Migration. The objective of this coordination is to organise the transfer of relocated persons to France in good legal and material conditions.