According to the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, over one million migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea to reach the European coasts in 2015 alone.
The magnitude of this migration flow, which is the biggest since the Second World War, is mainly due to the confluence of war, conflicts, and persecution in the Middle East (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria) and in Sub-Saharan Africa (Sudan, Eritrea) as well as economic and climatic factors.
For many of the migrants, the coasts of Greece, Spain, and Italy are only the beginning.
France has the third most asylum applications in Europe, behind Germany and Sweden. In 2016, more than 85,726 migrants have applied to asylum during 2016 – nearly 50% more than in 2011.
However, the actual figures to quantify the influx are difficult to compute precisely because of the distinction between migrants in general and refugees –the latter are fleeing their countries due to a major political crisis posing a threat to their existence, such as war or ethnic violence.
Only refugees are eligible for asylum and international protection in all countries.
Arriving with little to no resources after a dangerous and costly trip, migrants tend to gather in urban centers where they can access administrative services, informal sources of revenue, and humanitarian help.
In France, Paris and Calais are the main destinations for migrants. The frequent dismantling of the “jungle”, the self-organized camps near the northern city of Calais, has pushed the inflow towards the capital, creating a complex humanitarian and sanitary crisis.
In response to the~3,000 migrants settled, Paris built a temporary humanitarian welcome center at Porte de la Chapelle.