The Republic of France is predominantly based in Western Europe, bordering Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Andorra. France also includes a number of overseas regions and territories. Collectively, the republic is home to over 68 million people, around 90% of whom are French-born citizens. More than 80% of the French population live in urban centers, with 19% residing in rural communities. The capital, Paris, has a population of over 2 million inhabitants, making it the most populous city in France and fourth most populous in the EU.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in France since 1956.
Unemployment affects around 7% of the working force in France. However, around 20% of young people are unemployed due to skills gaps, a lack of job-specific experience, and temporary work contracts. In addition, young people are excluded from minimum social security benefits. This means that almost 1.4 million 16–24-year-olds are at risk of long-term reductions in wages, increased likelihood of future periods of unemployment, poverty, and poorer physical and mental health outcomes.
Around 300,000 people are homeless in France, staying in hotels, shelters, makeshift housing or on the streets, with around 4 million living in poor housing. Of this, around 30,000 children live on the streets with their families, another 30,000 in hotels, and up to 9,000 live in slums. Homelessness isolates and marginalises children, negatively impacting their education, social interactions, and self-confidence, as well as their physical and mental health.
Currently, France receives around 30,000 applications from children seeking international protection. Almost 1,000 of these are from unaccompanied minors. Over the past decade, almost 35,000 migrant children have been detained. Thousands more live in informal encampments, facing repeated mass evictions, mistreatment, and removal of their belongings. Children and families, already torn from their homes, experience violence and traumatic events and live in a constant state of high alert, focusing on day-to-day survival.