More than three million children living in France – or one in every five – live below the poverty line, according to a new report by UNICEF published on Tuesday.
The UN agency devoted to children’s rights revealed that around 30,000 children in France are homeless, while 9,000 live in slums and 140,000 drop out of school each year.
Its report said that between 2008 and 2012, an additional 440,000 children under 18 joined the ranks of the poor as their families were hit by the global economic crisis.
“Our report is an alarm bell that should encourage authorities to take urgent and more efficient actions to improve the life of every child,” said Michèle Barzach, president of UNICEF France.
Children face the brunt of economic inequalities with “disastrous consequences for their future and that of society,” Barzach added.
UNICEF France said it had published the report as part of its work in overseeing the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which France has ratified. The rights group said it had made 36 specific recommendations to France’s government as part of the report.
The document highlighted the “unacceptable” living conditions of thousands of migrant children in France, who are “deprived of their fundamental rights”. It said migrant children were most often the victims of discrimination and major rights violations, including human trafficking.
UNICEF also criticised France’s educational system, saying it was only widening the gap between the rich and the poor. It said economic inequalities were “particularly sharp” between mainland France and the country’s overseas territories.
“There is no real public strategy to deal with childhood and adolescence in a combined and coherent manner, nor is there a mechanism to monitor and evaluate the issue,” Barzach lamented.