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In April 2020, during the unprecedented challenges brought on by the Covid-19 health crisis across Europe, Refugee Rights Europe in partnership with Help Refugees and Human Rights Observers sough to produce an updated version of the summary report originally published to mark the occasion of the two-year milestone since the demolition of the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp.

This report provides an overview of the human rights situation which has been unfolding in northern France over the past few decades, and which continues today, and reaches new depths of crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The report also makes a number of recommendations in its final section, arguing that a different reality can and must be possible.

En avril 2020, face à l’épidémie de Covid-19 en Europe et aux défis sans précédents auxquels il faut faire face, Refugee Rights Europe, en partenariat avec Help Refugees et Human Rights Observers, a décidé de mettre à jour ce rapport publié pour la première fois deux ans après le démantèlement de la « jungle » de Calais, en 2018.

Ce rapport donne un aperçu de l’état d’extrême dénuement dans laquelle se trouve les personnes exilées et de la situation dramatique des droits humains dans le nord de la France, exacerbés par l’épidémie actuelle de Covid-19.

In the context of increased ‘securitisation’ at the British border, the fundamental rights of unaccompanied children are violated on a daily basis in Northern France. Safeguarding and protection systems appear to be entirely excluded from the current deterrence-based approach, despite national and international obligations to uphold the rights of the child.

This report provides an in-depth on the ground update of the ongoing situation for children in Northern France, many of whom hope to reach the UK, but who keep finding themselves trapped between the sealed British border and the heavy-handed approach of the French authorities.

The potential of the UK’s family reunion provisions being lowered following Brexit raises severe concerns about the safety of these children trapped at Britain’s doorstep, in particular given the sub-standard conditions and lack of safeguarding structures which leave children at particularly high risk of trafficking and other forms of abuse.

In this context, we’re launching a joint report with Refugee Youth Service, Refugee Women’s Centre, Help Refugees and Safe Passage, providing an on-the-ground update of the ongoing situation for children in northern France, who keep finding themselves trapped between the securitised British border and the heavy-handed approach of French authorities.

On the occasion of the two-year milestone since the demolition of the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp, Refugee Rights Europe and Help Refugees release a new report highlighting the human rights situation which has been unfolding in northern France over the past few decades.

The report highlights many years of human suffering, characterised by precarity, rough-sleeping, dangerous and unauthorised border-crossings, and what appears to be excessive police violence. After decades of encampments and evictions, and two years on from the demolition of the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp, it is evident that the state approach tried so far is simply not working.

Despite promises from President Macron to get refugees “off the streets, out of the woods” by the end of 2017, large numbers of displaced people remain on the streets of Paris in freezing temperatures with little to no access to appropriate sanitation facilities, including large numbers who had claimed asylum in France.

In this context, Refugee Rights Europe set out to investigate and document the situation in Paris, building on our pilot study from January 2017. The research took place from 27 to 30 January 2018. Over this period, Refugee Rights Europe’s researchers conducted 283 surveys in English, Amharic, Arabic, Pashto, Persian and Tigrinya. The research findings are outlined in this report.

Malgré les promesses faites par le président Macron de ne plus voir de réfugiés « dans les rues ou dans les bois dès 2018 » et les expulsions continues des camps de fortune à Paris, un nombre important de personnes déplacées sont toujours forcés de dormir dans les rues de Paris.

Dans ce contexte, Refugee Rights Europe a entrepris d’enquêter et de documenter la situation à Paris, en nous appuyant sur notre étude pilote de janvier 2017. La recherche a eu lieu du 27 au 30 janvier 2018. Pendant cette période, les chercheurs on mené 283 enquêtes en anglais, en amharique, en arabe, en pachto, en persan et en tigrinya. Les résultats de la recherche sont décrits dans ce rapport.

Twelve months after the demolition of the so-called ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais, several hundred refugees and displaced people continue to reside in the region. Twelve Months On investigates a number of issues faced by these individuals, including police and citizen violence, health conditions, and people’s access to information and legal advice.

The report is based on semi-structured interviews with 233 individuals – some 33% of the displaced people thought to be living in the area. This makes it the largest study of its kind in Calais and the surrounding area since the camp’s demolition.

Six months after the demolition of the so-called ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais, hundreds of refugees and displaced people continue to reside in the region. Six Months On investigates the issues that both adults and minors face, including police and citizen violence, and an absence of legal advice.

The report is based on interviews with 213 individuals – some 43% of the displaced people thought to be living in the region, including 42% of estimated minors. This makes it the largest study of its kind in Calais and the surrounding area since the camp’s demolition.

Six mois après la démolition du camp «Jungle» à Calais, des centaines de réfugiés et personnes déplacées continuent de résider dans la région. Le rapport Six Mois Plus Tard aborde les problèmes auxquels sont confrontés les adultes et les mineurs dans la région, y compris les violences policières et citoyenne, et l’absence de conseils juridiques.

Le rapport est basé sur des entretiens avec 213 personnes – soit environ 43% des personnes déplacées qui vivent dans la région, dont 42% des mineurs estimés. Cela en fait la plus grande étude de ce genre à Calais et dans les environs depuis la démolition du camp.

Life on the Streets documents the issues faced by refugees and displaced people sleeping rough in Paris. It investigates recent media reports of police violence, and the theft of tents, sleeping bags and blankets by the French authorities and others.

The report is based on interviews with 342 individuals in Paris, conducted in late January 2017, in partnership with Paris Refugee Ground Support and Denise Charlton Associates.

Still Here follows on from Refugee Right Euope’s previous Calais reports, The Long Wait and Still Waiting, to document and analyse the dynamics at play in the camp. It focuses in particular on the facilities available, and its residents’ future plans following the camp’s imminent eviction.

The report is based on interviews with 429 people living in the camp, approximately 4.2% of its total population, conducted in September and October 2016 in partnership with the Refugee Info Bus.

Still Waiting investigates some key themes emerging from Refugee Rights Europe’s previous report from the Calais camp. In particular, it focuses on the questions of “Why do you want to go to the UK?” and “What information is most important to you?”.

Conducted in July and August 2016, in partnership with the Refugee Info Bus, researchers surveyed 589 camp residents – approximately 6.5% of total inhabitants at the time.

The “Other” Camp focuses on the Dunkirk refugee camp in Grand-Synthe. Less talked about than its larger relative in Calais, the Dunkirk camp is often overlooked. This data was collected by the Dunkirk Legal Support Team, and analysed and presented by Refugee Rights Europe.

Research was conducted in March and April 2016, when 506 individuals were surveyed – roughly 30% of the camp’s estimated population of 1,700.

Refugee Rights Europe’s first qualitative report The Unknown Knowns, contains observations from five discrete settlements dotted around the Calais region. This report sheds light on living conditions within the smaller camps, and raises serious concerns about human rights infringements and unmet humanitarian standards.

Since the publication of The Long Wait, we have processed and analysed additional data relating to women in Calais, which we are presenting in this report. Media coverage consistently tends to highlight that the majority of residents in the Calais camp are men and boys, while reports and news stories relating to women and girls in the settlement are few and far between.

This report hence aims to fill some of the information gaps relating to these women. It sheds light on the specific adversities they face, including gender-based violence, a lack of access to reproductive healthcare, and an absence of safety and security, amongst others.

In February 2016, the Refugee Rights Europe conducted a survey in the informal camp in Calais. In total, we spoke to 870 men, women and children – about 15% of the camp’s total residents – making this the largest independent data collection to be carried out in Calais to date.

The United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR) collects statistics in official refugee camps. However, due to the unrecognised nature of the settlement in Calais, it has not been subject to the same in-depth analysis. Prior to our study, this sort of data simply didn’t exist.

We set out to help fill this gap. Our report contains data relating to the camp’s demographic composition, living conditions, potential human rights violations occurring among residents, and their future plans and aspirations.


Hundreds of refugees and displaced people are known to be sleeping rough in and around Maximilian Park in Brussels, Belgium. The situation reportedly intensified since the destruction of the so-called ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais, France, and conditions are today extremely bleak, with a lack of adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities.

In this context, Refugee Rights Europe (RRE) deployed a field research team to Brussels to conduct new research regarding the situation for refugees and displaced people there. From 22 to 25 June 2018, RRE surveyed a total of 118 individuals. The research findings are outlined in this report and paint a clear picture of the unsustainable situation that is unfolding in Brussels, just a stone’s throw from the heart of European power.

Ahead of the consideration of the sixth periodic report submitted by Belgium on 15 October 2019 at the 127th session of the Human Rights Committee, Refugee Rights Europe (RRE), in collaboration with La Plateforme Citoyenne de Soutien aux Réfugiés and others, submitted a version of this report to the United Nations.

‘No Way Forward, No Way Out’ is an updated and expanded version of our evidence submission, based on Refugee Rights Europe’s independent field research investigating and documenting the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in Belgium during 2018, as well as desk research, evidence and input from La Plateforme Citoyenne de Soutien aux Réfugiés, Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, and Refugee Community Kitchen.

United Kingdom

Within the context of the Home Office re-tendering process for asylum accommodation contracts, Refugee Rights Europe, in collaboration with MEENA Centre for Women and Children and the Baobab Project in Birmingham, set out to investigate asylum accommodation provision for asylum-seeking women in Britain.

The report is based on 34 surveys and ten open-ended discussions with asylum-seeking and refugee women at the Meena Centre for Women in Birmingham, and lays bare the fact that much remains to be done by the Home Office and its contractors in order to ensure safe, hygienic and dignified housing for asylum-seekers in Britain.

The report ‘Seeking Asylum’ was compiled in early 2019 by the Baobab Women’s Project, CARAG, Women with Hope, MEENA Centre for Women and Children, Coventry Migrant Women’s Houses and Refugee Rights Europe. The report specifically highlights the shortcomings in the UK’s fulfilment of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

The research findings, which are centered on inadequate Home Office procedures, destitution, mental health, and violence, call for urgent redress by the UK Government. The report authors argue that there is a moral and legal obligation to ensure that all women, irrespective of immigration status, can access the rights and freedoms set forth within international human rights law.

British asylum accommodation has been heavily criticised for its living standards over the past few years. In 2012, the British Home Office made a decision to switch contractual provision of asylum housing from a number of smaller providers to six regional contracts. It would be run by private companies, with little to no previous experience administrating asylum accommodation.

In this context, Refugee Rights Europe set out to investigate and document the situation of asylum accommodation in one of the main asylum seeker accommodation centres in London, on 13-15 January 2018. The research findings are based on interviews with 33 individuals, and are outlined in this report.


While the ‘hot-spot’ centres in Greece and Italy, alongside the squalid make-shift camps in Northern France, have received periods of heightened international attention, the town of Ventimiglia on the French-Italian border seems to have been largely overlooked by media agencies and human rights groups.

In this context, Refugee Rights Europe sent a research delegation to Ventimiglia from 21-24 August 2017, to document and shed light on the situation there. The research findings, based on interviews with 150 refugees and displaced people, highlight detrimental living conditions coupled with police violence and dangerous border crossings, creating a situation characterised by chronic insecurity and extensive mental and physical health concerns.

Une nouvelle étude du Refugee Rights Europe met en lumière la situation ter-rible engendrée par les conditions de vie déplorables, couplées avec les violences policières et les dangers du passage de la frontière, qui se caractérise par une insécurité chronique et des risques sérieux pour la santé physique et mentale.

Du 21 au 24 août 2017, le Refugee Rights Europe (en collaboration avec le Refugee Youth Service France) a mené une étude approfondie à Vintimille, à la frontière franco-italienne. L’équipe de recherche a interrogé 150 personnes en amharique, arabe, anglais, perse et tigrinya, couvrant ainsi environ 20% de la population totale des exilés à Vintimille au moment de l’étude.

A differenza dei centri hot -spot in Grecia e in Italia e gli accampamenti informali nel nord della Francia che hanno suscitato spesso l’attenzione della comunità internazionale, la città di Ventimiglia lungo il confine Italo-francese è rimasta a margine dell’attenzione mediatica e delle associazioni a difesa diritti umani.

Per far luce sulla situazione e documentare la realtà attuale , il Refugee Rights Europe, lo scorso agosto, ha inviato a Ventimiglia un’equipe di ricerca. I risultati dello studio, che si basano su 150 interviste fatte a rifugiati e sfollati, evidenziano le misere condizioni di vita che, sommate alla violenza esercitata dalle forze di polizia , danno luogo a una situazione di instabilità cronica sia sotto il profilo securitario che igienico-sanitario.


While there are many reports regarding the difficulties faced by displaced people living in the Reception and Identification Centres (often referred to as hotspots or RICs) of Lesvos, Chios and Samos, the smaller facilities on Kos and Leros are often forgotten. However, on both islands the hotspots actually make up a large proportion of the islands’ entire displaced population, and therefore require further attention.

This report provides first-hand insight into the situation in the hotspots on Kos and Leros in the spring of 2020. It raises serious concerns not only in regard to the material living conditions, but also the impact of Covid-19 related restrictions and detention practices.

In advance of Greece’s periodic review as a party to the Convention against Torture, Refugee Rights Europe, along with partner organisations, submitted a version of this report to the Committee against Torture on the situation for asylum seekers and refugees in Greece.

The report finds evidence of sweeping human rights violations of displaced people and refugees on mainland Greece and the islands of Chios, Lesvos and Samos, violations that could amount to cruel and unusual treatment and torture. The civil society actors that contributed to this report represent a diverse range of sectors, geographic regions, and organisational structures: from national and international NGOs to small volunteer-based aid groups and grassroots legal aid organisations.

Located across the sea from Turkey, the Greek island of Lesvos receives large numbers of refugees and displaced people hoping to seek asylum within the European Union. Since the so-called EU-Turkey Statement was signed in March 2016, thousands have found themselves trapped in Lesvos whilst overcrowding intensifies and living conditions worsen.

In this context, Refugee Rights Europe sent a research delegation to Lesvos from 18 to 22 June 2018, to document and shed light on the situation there. The research findings, based on interviews with 311 refugees and displaced people, highlight an urgent and tense environment on the island due to overcrowding, lack of capacity and resources, and unauthorised mobility.

Following widespread reports of the deteriorating situation for refugees in the Greek island of Chios, Refugee Rights Europe sent a field delegation to the island to investigate the human rights issues and humanitarian standards experienced there. The research found that the continued arrival of refugees from conflict-ridden countries has led to chronic overcrowding while charities, NGOs and UN bodies are struggling to provide some of the most basic services required.

The data presented in ‘An Island at Breaking Point’ was collected on Chios, Greece from 11 to 18 May 2017. Our team of researchers conducted 300 semi-structured interviews in Arabic, Dari, English, Kurdish, and Pashto, to capture the lived experiences of individuals – primarily those over the age of 18.

Displaced women and girls face a range of specific adversities, ranging from gender-based violence to a lack of reproductive healthcare. Hidden Struggles examines these issues, and exposes the critical need for more funding and resources to protect women and girls in displacement.

The study was conducted in mainland Greece in early November 2016, and is based on three different research components: sex-disaggregated data from a survey of 278 camp residents, 38 direct interviews with female residents in three camps, and 58 interviews with service providers operating in camps.

Life In Limbo investigates human rights violations faced by refugees residing in mainland Greece. The adversities outlined in this report paint an alarming picture of the context faced by displaced people in Europe, and call for firm and immediate policy action.

Refugee Rights Europe’s 25 academic researchers conducted 278 surveys in early November 2016. Data was collected at seven different camps – predominately in Southern Mainland Greece – as well as a number of squats and community centres in the city.


The formal closure of the ‘Balkan route’ in 2016 was part of a strategy to hinder the movement of refugees and displaced people through the Balkans and into Western Europe. Despite this, since 2018, more than 65,000 people entered the region, using alternative and often more dangerous routes, only to frequently be met with negligence, violations of their rights, pushbacks and beatings.

The aim of this report is to provide an overview of the situation pertaining to access to asylum in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. In doing so, it places particularly strong emphasis on BiH and Serbia, the two countries in the area with the highest number of displaced people present in-country.


Within the context of ‘externalisation’ of European borders to North African countries, RRE set out to research and highlight the experiences facing refugees and displaced people arriving in Europe through Morocco and via the Western Mediterranean route; and following their arrival in Spain. 

The research presented in this report is a combination of desk research and field interviews with displaced individuals in Spain, as well as interviews with volunteers and activists operating in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, in Madrid, and in the Basque border town of Irun. As such, the report highlights individuals’ lived experiences on Moroccan soil, in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, during the sea crossings, upon arrival in Spain, and at the French-Spanish border.


Starting Over? outlines the issues faced by refugees and asylum seekers living in emergency shelters and community housing centres in Berlin. The report finds that Germany’s approach to welcoming and integrating refugees has been relatively successful compared to many other European countries. However, there remain a number of problem areas which must be urgently addressed.

Refugee Rights Europe’s 12 academic researchers conducted 390 surveys in German, English, Russian, Arabic, Dari and Tigrinya, across a total of eight emergency shelters and community housing centres. The study was undertaken in Berlin from 17-21 December 2016 and 4-6 January 2017.


Fleeing violence and conflict in Syria, asylum-seekers often find themselves facing very challenging circumstances upon arrival in Europe. These include the containment policies and border-closures that prevent them from reuniting with their family members; as well as the prolonged waiting times for the outcomes of asylum applications. Many are also faced with difficulties in accessing education, adequate accommodation and other services.

This report aims to provide an insight into the circumstances and experiences of Syrian refugees in Europe. It focuses specifically on human rights infringements, thus identifying a number of shortcomings in the European refugee relief response, leading to a number of policy recommendations.

Released on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this report is a summary of Refugee Rights Europe’s key findings from our various field studies across Europe in 2017-2018.

The report paints a harrowing picture of human rights for refugees and people in displacement throughout Europe, documenting chronic police violence, lack of access to information, substandard living conditions, gender-based violence and absence of child safeguarding structures.

This report is a summary of Refugee Rights Europe’s key findings from our various field studies across Europe in 2016-2017, structured around the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The report paints a harrowing picture of human rights for refugees and people in displacement throughout Europe, documenting chronic police violence, lack of access to information and education, substandard living conditions, gender-based violence and absence of sexual and reproductive healthcare services.

Refugee Rights Europe relays the voices of displaced people in Europe, reporting what respondents tell us. Meanwhile, we have not been able to verify claims through official sources.