France sees steep rise in deaths of street children

New figures released this week laid bare the problem of homelessness in France with 454 people living on the streets having died last year. That total included 15 children, which was a steep rise on the previous year.

France sees steep rise in deaths of street children
Homeless children pictured on the streets of Paris. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

The figures were collated by charity 'Les Morts de la Rue' (the street dead) which is involved in the fight against homelessness in the country.

By asking other associations, hospitals and undertakers to pass on details of deaths, the charity revealed that 454 homeless people died on the streets last year, including 15 children.

The number of youngsters dying is on the rise – three died in 2012 – and will be of major concern to authorities in France.

The average of the children who died was just four years old, and according to 'Les Morts de la Rue' the majority of them were from the Roma community.

Roma migrants, who come mainly from eastern Europe, often live in makeshift camps dotted around towns and cities, which are regularly pulled down by French authorities for health and sanitation reasons.

Among the 454 homeless people who died, 91 percent were men with an average age of 53 in the Paris region and 48 outside the capital.

A study by the charity also revealed that on average a homeless person in France spends ten years on the streets.

Speaking to The Local earlier this year: Christophe Louis, the president of Les Morts de la Rue said: "The French government needs to introduce a series of reforms aimed at providing help for those on the street.

"They need access to lodging, for a start, and financial help," he said. “They need to protect the country’s most vulnerable."

Last year The Local reported how France had seen a steep rise in the number of people living on the streets

Some 141,500 people were without a fixed abode in France last year, according to a report by national statistics agency INSEE. More than 30,000 of those were children.

This number represents a close to 50-percent increase in homelessness in Europe’s second-largest economy since 2001. What makes the issue more frustrating to campaigners is that France is home to around two million empty properties, and plans to build more new homes.

“There’s around 150,000 people living in France without stable accommodation. Some are in hotels or bedsits but this is not an acceptable solution. It is only a short term answer," Louis said.

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