For Bernard Cazeneuve, Macron’s political “initiative” must focus on “expensive life”

PARIS: Nearly 2,000 children are forced to sleep on the street for lack of available or suitable emergency accommodation places, according to the barometer published on Wednesday by the Federation of Solidarity Actors (FAS) and Unicef ​​France, which describe an increase over an “alarming” year.

“The figures have never been so alarming with an increase in the number of children without accommodation solutions ever reached” since the establishment of this barometer five years ago, underlines to AFP the representative of the UN agency in France, Adeline Hazan.

On the night of August 21 to 22, 3,735 family members who dialed 115, the emergency number for homeless people, could not be accommodated due to a lack of available or suitable places.

Of these, 1,990 were children, including 480 under the age of three. Nearly 80% of these 1,990 children said they had already slept in the street the day before their request, specify Unicef ​​France and the FAS, which point to an increase over one year of more than 20% of children without accommodation solutions.

A situation all the more “worrying” as the figures are largely underestimated, insist the two organizations – their barometer does not take into account those who have given up calling 115, children living in slums or in squats or unaccompanied minors.

“We are witnessing a double movement, that of a significant increase in accommodation needs due to the economic context and geopolitical issues, and that of a desire” from the executive “to reduce the number of accommodation places” , deciphers Nathalie Latour, director of the FAS. “This created an extremely high tension situation, and therefore many people, including children, on the street” or in makeshift shelters.

shame and stress

Like Marie, who a few days before her return to fifth grade, confides her “stress”. This 12-year-old teenager has been sleeping since the end of June in the Bellecombe gymnasium in Lyon, occupied by around twenty women and around thirty children, accompanied by the Never Without a Roof collective.

“A lot of people tell me that the fifth is hard, that it’s important to be concentrated but I don’t see how I can be here, with the noise, the little ones playing, the babies crying. “, she told AFP. “It’s very stressful and it’s shameful. To my girlfriends, to whom I normally tell everything, I didn’t tell them anything, I’m too afraid of judgment, it’s very hard to live with.”

Before joining the gymnasium with his mother, his 10-year-old brother and his 6-year-old sister, Maxime experienced the streets and camps last spring. “Under the tent, it was raining, there were rats at night, it was complicated”, modestly summarizes the teenager who was then in 6th grade. “In class, I was tired, I was hungry, it was not easy to concentrate.”

For Juliette Murtin, spokesperson for Never Without Toit, “what is the hardest thing for them is the permanent uncertainty, not knowing where they will be the day after tomorrow”.

“The number of anxiety-depressive disorders, even depression, malaise, impossibility of learning correctly or playing correctly is absolutely gigantic” among homeless children, adds Adeline Hazan.

In the immediate future, Unicef ​​France and the FAS are asking, among other measures, for an amending finance law for 2023 providing for “at a minimum the maintenance of the capacity of the accommodation stock at 205,000 places”, with a goal of “zero children to the street”, and an increase in the number of places in 2024.

Questioned by AFP on August 23 on the question of emergency accommodation places, the Minister Delegate for Housing Patrice Vergriete assured that the prospect of an increase in their number was “integrated at State level” and that discussions on “the financial means to achieve this” were underway, without giving further details.

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