Irregular migrants can be detained for up to 18 months before being deported, according to the laws of the European Union (EU). In 2017, nearly 47,000 people were detained in France. Migrant detention facilities in France are often cramped and have prison-like security measures in place. Access to outdoor spaces may be limited, and there is little opportunity for recreational activities.

The UK also uses migrant detention facilities. They have one of the largest detention centres in Europe, with nearly 29,000 people detained on immigration related charges in 2018, including over 13,000 asylum seekers and 42 minors. Many of these migrants will be returned to their home countries or the first country they passed in which they could have applied for asylum. There have been several complaints about conditions at short-term holding facilities, including poor lighting and ventilation, and inadequate sleeping or washing facilities.

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