It has come as a rude shock to millions of Frenchmen, but their country, beset by an ominous level of unemployment and a brusque retrenchment of business activity, has a new generation of poor.
GVs People begging on Paris streets, people passing. (3 SHOTS)
GV Man with cane begging in Paris street. (2 SHOTS)
GVs INTERIOR Metro station, tramp on seat, sleeping against wall. (2 SHOTS)
GVs INTERIOR St. Germain-des-Pres station, person wrapped up, sleeping on seat, other man lying down asleep. (3 SHOTS)
GVs People queuing outside charity organisation, being fed. (2 SHOTS)
GV People walking toward food distribution centre.
GVs People seated, eating.
SVs People outside gate, with sign saying "full". (3 SHOTS)
GVs Hot soup being distributed by soup vans. (2 SHOTS)
SVs People eating soup. (2 SHOTS)
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Background: It has come as a rude shock to millions of Frenchmen, but their country, beset by an ominous level of unemployment and a brusque retrenchment of business activity, has a new generation of poor. earlier this year, it was estimated that six million Frenchmen were classed as "poverty-stricken". The numbers of homeless have rocketed upwards in past months, the tally of unemployed exceeds two million, the list of business failures the largest in recent memory. The streets of Paris are haunted by people begging, many of the capital's underground Metro stations have become home to dozens - young and old alike - who take advantage of the warm air to sleep undisturbed, and thousands of hungry Parisians queue daily for food handouts from so-called "soup vans" and charity kitchen. The drame of France's "new poor" has assumed such proportions that President Francois Mitterrand's Socialist government can no longer ignore its existence. Officials have said that the most pressing problem is that of feeding, throughout the winter, the hundreds of thousands who would otherwise face starvation. The question of housing is a long-term crisis which will require long-term solutions. France's problems - and those of its hungry and unemployed citizens - loom large, demanding urgent attention before the winter weather exacts and even heavier toll among its people.