Cookies on this website

We use cookies to make our website work properly. We'd also like your consent to use analytics cookies to collect anonymous data such as the number of visitors to the site and most popular pages.

I'm OK with analytics cookies

Don't use analytics cookies

Home / Resources / News / The map of illegal detention of migrants in Europe

The map of illegal detention of migrants in Europe

Every year in the European Union and neighbouring countries, hundreds of thousands of children, women and men are arrested or detained simply because they do not have a residence permit. Since the 1990s, all Member States have indeed developed legislative, administrative and political frameworks, which materialized through the installation of camps.

Since 2002, Migreurop attempts to identify these largely secret and illegal places of detention, of which there is no official census, in order to make their existence in civil society. The “Encampment Map”, whose first edition dates back to 2003, is the cornerstone of the advocacy work carried out by the network.

On 30 November, the fifth version of the “Map of camps” in Europe and in the Mediterranean countries was presented to the public. It emerges that there are 420 places of detention, but there is no information available for Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan and Syria, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Belarus, countries that benefit from the European Neighbourhood Policy or who have signed a repatriation agreement.

Alarming data. Since its generalization, the detention practice and the number of places have dramatically increased. In 2012, 420 places of detention were recorded for a total (official) capacity of 37,000 persons. In 2009, 600,000 people “without papers” were detained within the EU pending deportation to be expelled and 500,000 were detained on arrival in the territory of a European state, waiting to be discharged in the country of origin. Since the last edition of the map, in 2009, the maximum duration of detention has grown well beyond the time necessary for the implementation of expulsions: 32 to 45 days in France, from 40 to 60 days in Spain, 2 to 18 months in Italy, from 3 to 18 months in Greece.However, the data are not complete, because the numbers of persons really detained is often greater than the “official”  capacity of these centers. In addition, the authorities use a variety of locations, which are not included in official lists, such as airports, ordinary prisons, boats, merchant navy, etc… and an unspecified number of migrants survive in informal settlements (“jungles” in the region of the Calais region, tranquilos area of Oujda in Morocco or Patras in Greece).

Finally, these figures do not reflect the daily inhuman and degrading conditions of detention. The opacity of procedures, the difficulties or lack of access to legal and medical assistance, the violence and self-violence inflicted on the detainees are kept hidden through  the barriers to access for press and civil society . Detention camps for only foreigners is the highest and most urgent human rights violation in Europe of the XXI century.Migreurop in partnerships with European Alternatives and the Open Access Now Campaign advocates for the closure of camps, asks the governments of Member States of the EU and the countries on its borders to no longer use administrative detention for immigration.

Flore Murard-Yovanovitch