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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 August 2005, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Papers agonise over Paris fire
Scene of the Paris fire
The apartment block in Paris's 13th district was gutted by the fire

The day after 17 African immigrants died in a house fire in Paris, France's national and regional press reflects on the underlying causes of the tragedy.

Many papers blame the high cost of property in France, which has led to a serious shortage of social housing and consequent overcrowding in the poorer districts of Paris.

Commentators also accuse politicians who vowed to take action in the wake of the tragedy of shedding "crocodile tears", pointing out that the roots of the housing crisis go back a long way.

Le Monde

This fire revives the debate on the inadequacy of social housing in Paris.

Jean-Marcel Bouguereau in Le Nouvel Observateur

To the gap between the haves and the have-nots has been added a new divide - the property divide... The crocodile tears shed by various people since yesterday morning do not convince anyone.

Olivier Picard in Les Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace

The embers had not yet gone cold before everyone seemed to be trying to pass the buck for the tragedy and Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy was promising a far-reaching inquiry... For years, social housing has been the great absent element in national and municipal political programmes.

Jacques Guyon in La Charente Libre

This tragedy, apart from prompting our politicians to the compassionate utterances in which they are past masters, ought to force them to act. Is it acceptable for decent housing in France to become a privilege?

Michel Vagner in L'Est Republicain

Four months after the conflagration at the hotel in the Rue de Provence [the Paris-Opera hotel, where 24 people, most of them African immigrants, died in a fire in April], the fire on the boulevard Vincent-Auriol comes along as further evidence of impotence... But we will soon have a register of dangerous buildings: a new black list! Too late.

Michel Guilloux in L'Humanite Hebdo

Everyone knows that neither this building nor the Paris-Opera are isolated cases... Nationwide efforts to provide social housing are far from being adequate to address the consequences of this situation. The declaration over the smouldering ashes by the minister of the interior, ordering the Paris Prefet to compile a register of all the apartment buildings in Paris in terms of safety and overcrowding, leaves at the very least a bitter taste.

Patrick Berthomeau in Sud Ouest

Seventeen deaths, fourteen of them children, is a high price to pay to get things moving in a situation we have been aware of for a long time... With a tragedy like this, grandstanding is out of place. Pointing a vengeful finger in the direction of this or that person does not get us very far, and could even add one injustice to another.

Herve Chabaud in L'Union

Rather than pointing the finger of blame the better in order to exonerate oneself, it would make more sense to recognize the extent of the housing crisis in Paris, the long-standing consequence of the over-concentration of economic activity in this country. The most vulnerable are the first to be affected, and among those are the immigrants whose family size does not correspond to the French norm.

Patrice Chabanet in Le Journal de la Haute Marne

There are thousands of buildings like the one that caught fire yesterday. There is thus every likelihood that we will see other such tragedies. The embarrassment of the political class is understandable: it feels collectively responsible because it is responsible, as there is nothing new about the housing crisis in Paris.

Gilles Duxerre in La Provence

The terrible tragedy that took place in Paris yesterday is unworthy of our country... At the same time as France is witnessing an unprecedented degree of property speculation, the country is incapable of providing decent housing for thousands of families living in extremely precarious conditions... In the Ile-de-France alone, 300,000 requests for social housing have not yet been met.

Gerard Dupuy in Liberation

What is in question is the entire policy of the accommodation of people from the margins of society, foreign in origin and faced with the eternal problem of assimilation.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.





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