A new report by UNICEF France has revealed that over three million children in France live in poverty. In a span of four years, the number of children living under the poverty line increased by 440,000. Also touched on, was the high level of discrimination and human rights violation of poor migrant children. The report also addressed France’s failure to implement a strategy for children, and suggested 36 policy adjustments.

We often think of France as a sturdy, developed world power, but the widening gap between the rich and the poor, lack of policies aimed at children and widespread discrimination against migrants, show that developing countries aren’t the only places for progress to be made. In fact, many European countries face higher rates of child poverty and an estimated 1 in 3 children lives in poverty in both the United Kingdom and Spain.

These findings seem astonishing, especially for a country with the financial status and power as France, but it goes to show how important policies are. Without the proper policies in place, countries will not make progress. This new report and the investigation as a whole will provide a prime example for governments all over the world. Policy is what gives a country the power to grow. For example, we have seen poverty reduction programs go into developing countries with the good intentions of providing or creating capital only to see it stop there because of a lack of regulation or policies in place to continue growth, and to protect that growth.

The lack of policy aimed at French youth is alarming from any standpoint. The high rate of poverty among children suggests a lack of investment in youth, which will hurt France in the long term. With 3 million impoverished children, the outlook on the future working generation is not good. The rates of homelessness and school dropouts should be a serious wake up call for the French government. As more and more children fall below the poverty line, fewer children are enrolled in school, which translates directly to less economic and political participation in the future. The decreased participation will make for a less productive nation and France, as a whole will face a number of resulting problems needing urgent attention.

France has a reputation for discrimination against migrants and foreigners and this report as a part of a broader investigation and the changes the French government makes as a result should hopefully loosen some of those longstanding divisions. In order to succeed and grow as a nation, France desperately needs to become more progressive. There needs to be less marginalization and more positive policy aimed at children and at migrants to encourage them to succeed, which will in turn help France as a whole to grow.

– Emma Dowd

Sources: Eurostat, France 24, Newsweek, World Bulletin
Photo: FarsNews


asylum to Iraqi Christians
Ever since ISIS tore through the northern portion of Iraq, the historic Christian community that called the area home for decades was forced out in a mass exodus due to an ultimatum issued by the organization to either leave, pay a tax or die.

This threat was certainly not empty, as ISIS went on to destroy multiple Christian holy sites in the area. The hate and vitriol coming from the militant Islamic organization has drawn the ire of the international community both within and outside the Middle East. Outside countries and organizations have been helping out on the ground, but a recent move by France has demonstrated their commitment to those who have fled the area by offering asylum to Iraqi Christians on French soil.

A recent joint statement released by Laurent Fabius and Bernard Cazeneuve, the foreign and interior ministers respectively, indicated their condemnation of ISIS and their maneuvers in the strongest terms possible.

“The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIL is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq…pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region,” they articulated. “We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.”

This statement demonstrated France’s increased solidarity, as the opposition party echoed these sentiments in support of the Iraqi Christians.

The recent situation in Mosul has gotten increasingly worse, and has only been amplified by the inaction of Iraqi military and government. The U.N. Security Council has already condemned the persecution of Iraqi Christians by ISIS.

Efforts from the Security Council, when combined with this recent move from France, have demonstrated an incredibly strong international solidarity against the militant Islamist organization. While significant efforts have been launched to help those in need of humanitarian assistance, ISIS still remains entrenched in the area.

– Andre Gobbo

Sources: Al Jazeera, BBC, Reuters, The Borgen Project
Photo: BBC


On July 19, pro-Palestinian protests in Paris found trouble with the police. A ban was announced regarding a planned rally against violence in the Gaza strip, to which some Parisians responded actively.

In northern Paris, protestors launched projectiles at police, who responded with teargas and stun grenades. Demonstrators outwardly protested Israel by burning the Israeli flag. Other protests took form in climbing buildings and setting at least one car on fire.

By the end of the night, 38 of nearly 5,000 protestors were arrested as the riot came to a close.

The heightened conflict with Gaza has contributed to growing tensions in France between its Muslim and Jewish populations.

Following the protests, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated that France “will not tolerate attempts to—with violence, words or acts—import the Israeli-Palestinian conflict onto its soil.”

The ban took place as a result of a march on synagogues in Paris the previous weekend, which ended in eight arrests. President Francois Hollande banned possibly violent protests to prevent further clashes between citizens and police.

However, it was the ban itself that angered anti-Israeli Parisians who gathered on Saturday chanting “Israel, assassin.” These peaceful protests were not limited to the capital. All across France protests have taken place regarding the Gaza conflict.

President Hollande has taken a great amount of criticism for the government’s apparent failure to take a stand against Israel’s recent actions in Gaza. However, there is another side of opposition against Hollande from the far-right National Front who has criticized the government for being too “soft” regarding crimes and illegal immigration.

The European Decolonial Network, based in the Netherlands, started a petition to preserve the rights of the protestors and to dissemble the ban. So far, the petition has 200 signatures from around the world.

Jewish community leaders have complained that the ban on demonstrations promotes discrimination against the Jewish community in France.

Pro-Palestinian protestors were attacked by members of the Jewish Defense League, which often advocates the use of violence against Palestinian supporters.

One protestor compared the current situation to the liberation of African-Americans in the 60’s. Aya Ramadan stressed, “It’s evident that today when we see a mass of Arabs and black people coming together over the Palestinian cause…It’s relatively the same thing: Arabs supporting and independence movement abroad. And they face violent repression.”

Protests have been seen all around Europe, such as in Geneva and London. Nearly 300 protestors gathered outside the U.N. European Headquarters to demonstrate against Israel. In London, thousands marched peacefully outside of the Israeli embassy while clutching Palestinian flags and displaying banners that read, “Stop the bombing” and “Free Palestine.”

The conflict in Gaza rages on, and it seems that the rest of the world will remain involved until a solution is reached. Although Israel houses only about eight million people, this is a conflict that has harnessed the hearts and lives of the entire international community.

– Cambria Arvizo
Sources: Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera, Reuters
Photo: The Independent

France's face veil ban
The European Court of Human Rights upheld France’s face veil ban on the wearing of face-covering veils in public settings. The ban, which went into effect three years ago, has caused widespread backlash from Muslim communities in France, which claim the ban imposes on their religious freedom and identity. Labeled as a means to help protect public safety and bridge social gaps, the imposition of the ban was strictly “due to the concealment of the face” and had no correlation with religious animosity, according to the Court.

A woman by the alias of S.A.S. testified against France’s face veil ban in court. A university-educated woman and French citizen, S.A.S. told the courts that she voluntarily wore the veils (the niqab, which leaves the eyes exposed, and the burqa, which covers the body from head-to-toe) and felt no pressure from her husband to wear the dress in public. S.A.S. wished to wear the veils during certain circumstances and felt the ban imposed on her religious obligation to do so.

At the time it was enacted, the Interior Ministry in Paris estimated only around 2,000 women in France still wore the niqab. This is a considerably low number for France’s Muslim community, which — at up to six million — is Europe’s largest. Only about hundreds of women have been fined for wearing the veil, which is usually at around 150 euros, or $215 US dollars.

The European Court, while aware the ban did affect certain members of the Muslim community specifically, upheld it on account of the veil’s restriction from those wearing it to show their face, which is considered a social right and safety concern. While the court denied the ban’s justification on improving public safety or women’s rights, they did agree that it improved social cohesion.

“Some people now feel entitled to attack women wearing the veil even though the infringement is no more severe than, say, a parking ticket,”  Ray said.

Nevertheless, the French government has remained satisfied with the ruling, claiming it a victory for “gender equality.”

Nick Magnanti

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Mail Online, The New York Times
Photo: Telegraph

The well-being of global citizens relies heavily on the health of their health care systems. However, the type of medical attention you will receive when you go to the doctor, or even the likelihood you will attempt to seek care, varies vastly depending on where you live. Indicators like average life expectancy, infant mortality and obesity prevalence highlight the success of the health care systems. With this wealth of information, we can assess why certain nations’ health care systems are in better condition than others.

1. France

France had the best health system in the world in 2000, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) most recent assessment of world’s health systems. So what makes France’s method so successful? First, statistics on doctors and life expectancy are often on France’s side. France has less doctors per capita than second place Italy at 3.07 per 1,000 people, but more annual doctor visits than most of the top 10. It also has 3.43 hospital beds per 1,000 people, which is rivaled only by Japan and Italy of those in the top 10. Life expectancy is 81.66 and infant mortality rate is 3.31 of every 1,000 live births.

It falls on the government to negotiate doctor and hospital fees in an effort to keep costs low. In addition, a national insurance program flips 70 percent of the bill for everyone. The other 30 percent is picked up by private insurance. This means that out of pocket spending on health care is only $307 per capita.

2. The United States

The United States has one of the biggest economies in the world, yet it ranks 36 this year on the success of its health care system. Perhaps this is because the United States, while a wealthy nation, has an infant mortality rate of 6.17 per 1,000 births and a life expectancy of 79.56, neither of which are something to cheer over compared to other industrial nations where the average is higher. In addition, obesity prevalence has reached 36.5 percent, about three times as high as France. This signals that while the United States has the capability to provide good health care, it is falling far behind its peers. That being said, the United States is often considered the leader in medical research and cancer treatment.

In this country, insurance is provided mostly by for-profit private insurance groups, with some exceptions. Those over 65 years old qualify for Medicare and the disabled or low-income population qualifies for Medicaid, which are sponsored by the federal government and paid for by taxes. The number of uninsured is dropping, and in 2014, only about 15.6 percent of the population goes without insurance. However, citizens still pay a whopping $987 per capita out of pocket for health care. Changes will occur over the next few years with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but it is still early to assess how recent patterns will change the ranking of the health care system.

3. Pakistan

Pakistan ranked 122 according to the WHO in 2000 and continues to struggle with health care and disease today. The average life expectancy is 67.05 in 2014, below that of Syria and Iran. In addition, infant mortality is a frightening 57.48 of every 1,000 births. Pakistan has only .6 hospital beds and .8 doctors per 1,000 people. All this indicates that the health care system in Pakistan is struggling, leaving its citizens in serious trouble.

There is much to learn from the health care systems of other nations, but changes can be made at different levels for different countries. For countries like the United States where some tweaking to the costs and the insurance sector would vastly increase the overall health of the citizens and the system, taking notes on France’s system would be beneficial. Changes would allow more people to get coverage for less money from the federal budget. But for places like Pakistan where the system is in shambles, a functioning health care system must be in place first. Overall, different nations stand in different positions, but health care systems across the world could use a restructuring.

– Caitlin Thompson 

Sources: CIA(1), CIA(2), Commonwealth Fund, Gallup Poll, NPR, The Patient Factor, PBS, WHO(1), WHO(2), World Bank(1), World Bank(2)
Photo: Telegraph