Fifty members of the French parliament have spent a night on the streets to express solidarity with the country’s homeless population and draw attention to the social issue exacerbated by a cold snap in France.
The French lawmakers spent the night on the streets of the French capital of Paris on Wednesday as air temperature was expected to fall to as low as minus 2 degrees Celsius.
The initiative was launched by the deputy mayor of the Etampes Commune, Mama Sy, who called on elected officials to “sleep rough,” and comprehend the seriousness of the problem by standing in solidarity with the city’s homeless population in winter temperatures.
“We can no longer allow people to live and sleep out on the street. We want it to end. To do that, we demand the requisition of empty buildings. This is not about one or another official’s mistake — we all failed and we must end this inhumane situation together,” Sy said in an interview with Le Parisien daily.
The deputy mayor pointed to the 6,000 homeless people who had been granted temporary housing across France over the past weeks and called on the government to proceed with the plan until a permanent solution was found.
A homeless person is defined as someone who is without a fixed, permanent residence and lives on the streets or in a vehicle or at shelters.
The Paris mayor’s office counted 2,952 homeless people in the French capital in mid-February.
French media reports said two bodies of homeless people who died of cold exposure were discovered in the country early last week.
Last September, French President Emmanuel Macron declared that “no man must remain on the streets or in the woods before the end of the year,” however, the goal has yet to materialize.
According to estimates by Les Morts de la Rue, a homelessness advocacy group in France, 2,838 homeless French people lost their lives in 2015.