Funded by

Agence française de Développement, Fondation de France & Principauté de Monaco

Objectives of the study

This study aims to shed light on the way that different aid actors in France currently provide assistance and basic protection to migrants in keeping with their mandates and the values that guide their action, whether this is humanitarian, social or militant.

In order to establish the limits of humanitarian space in responding to the basic needs of those arriving in France, the study focused on two central questions:

  • What is the perimeter and nature of humanitarian space in the context of current national policies?
  • What solutions and innovative practices could be adopted to allow the aid response to evolve in an environment that is constrained, but is also a source of new initiatives?

As such, the study aimed to:

  • Identify areas of tension with regard to humanitarian principles, particularly those of human dignity, independence and impartiality (Code of Conduct, CHS).
  • Analyse the new landscape and the dynamics between the different actors involved in the response.
  • Think about the areas that need to be invested for the aid sector to position itself appropriately with the aim of suggesting possible areas of action.


The period under investigation was between autumn 2016 and the end of 2017. However, older stories, notably from the summer of 2015, were also collected and included in the analysis when they influenced the current context and actors’ operational strategies.

Geographically, the study covered three sectors that were particularly under tension: Hauts-de-France (Lille, Calais, Grande-Synthe); Paris and its outskirts; the border region between France and Italy (between Cannes and the Roja valley).

This study was carried out as part of the “Learning and innovating to improve crisis response”.

Carried out by

Valérie Léon

Trainer, researcher and evaluator (since 2012)