jeudi 24 novembre 2016

Helping refugees in their asylum application process

On November 9th, eleven residents from the Trébeurden and Trégastel Reception and Orientation Centers were convened to the Bretagne Prefecture's « single desk », which started a 21 days countdown for each of them to complete their asylum application form. The deadline is therefore on November 30th.

Coallia requested support from volunteers and the group « People happy to welcome refugees » to help complete those forms, and offered a training that day in Trébeurden. The first support interviews started a week later on November 16th.

The application is based on a Cerfa form that applicants have to fill out in French (even though they do not yet master the French language). In order to help both volunteers and asylum applicants, « People happy to welcome refugees » prepared an entirely bilingual document in Arab and French, based on this Cerfa form. Click here to download the document ; it is also available in pashto.

To get a better idea of how to best help asylum applicants, volunteers also participated in information meetings
held by the collectif de soutien aux sans-papiers du Trégor-Goëlo, part of the non-profit association AC ! Trégor. This non-profit association holds free legal advice sessions every wednesday from 2:30 to 5 PM, at its new location on the 3rd floor in the recently renovated Cultural Center in Sainte-Anne, Lannion. We recommend everyone who is helping asylum applicants to contact this non-profit association (02 96 47 27 27, and

The asylum application process is fixed by law in a specific Code : Code of Entry and Residence of Aliens and the Right to Asylum.

The article 723-4 in particular, describes on which elements of the applicant's declaration and under which conditions the OFPRA will base its decision to grant the status of refugee, the status of subsidiary protection, or to deny status.

The second paragraph in this article states that the applicant must give « any element necessary, such as any document in his or her posession giving information about age, identity, nationality, personal history, including his/her family's, travel documents, previous countries of residence, previous asylum requests, itinireray and reasons justifying their request ».

The officer evaluating the demand will take into account « not only the situation in the country of origin, but also any element of proof and information presented by the applicant, and, when the case may be, activities that may expose the person to persectutions or serious harm ».

The article also states that « the fact that applicants have already been subject to persecution or serious harm or direct threat to be subjected to persecution or serious harm, is considered a valid indication that the fear to be persecuted or subject to serious harm is founded, unless precise elements can indicate that such events would not happen again » .

This article concludes : « If part of the declaration has no elements of proof to back it up, no further justification will be requested, if the applicant has satisfied to the requests in the second paragraph mentioned above, and if the applicant's declarations are considered to be coherent and credible, and if they are not in contradiction with other informations held by the office. »

People hosted in the Trégastel and Trébeurden Receptions and Orientations Centers come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Soudan, Somalia and Erythrea.

« People happy to welcome refugees » also mobilized a team of 65 voluntary translators to help complete the forms during support interviews. 15 speak arabic, a great help to arab speaking Soudanese and Somalis. All of the 21 Afghans speak either pashtoun or dari (an afghan version of the farsi spoken in Iran) ; To this day, only one pashtoun speaker living in Trégor volunteered. Volunteers are still welcome to sign up online at :

In 2015, France registered 80 075 asylum applications, out of which 19 506 received a favorable outcome (French Interior Ministry data) therefore 24% of the applications. Bretagne holds a similar average with 25% (Region Prefecture data)

> For further reading « Comprendre le droit d’asile » (in French) and the Interior Ministry webpage, "Guide du demandeur d'asile en France" in French, English, Arabic, Pachtoun, Farsi…

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