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Homeless in need of 'winter emergency plans'

13 March, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today called upon the EU to commit itself to 'taking decisive action to combat street homelessness'.

Ms de Brún made her comments after she and a number of fellow MEPs tabled a parliamentary question to Europe's Council of Ministers asking what actions have been taken to follow through on its commitment to ending street homelessness by 2010.

The MEPs are also pressing for policy makers to provide help to victims of the cold and to respond with winter emergency plans during the winter months.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

"Under the EU Social Inclusion Strategy 2001-2005, The European Union has committed itself to a policy of decisively tackling the serious issue of street homelessness and to eradicating this problem by 2010.

"At a time when severe weather is affecting much of Europe, it is particularly important time for national governments and the EU institutions to take immediate action. Only last year a migrant worker in Coleraine was forced to sleep rough and had to have both her legs amputated as a result. It is unacceptable, in this day and age and with the resources at our disposal that even one person should be forced to sleep rough, especially in extreme weather conditions.

"The European Union is in a position to deal with this issue. All of those MEPs who have co-signed the question are calling for the EU to respond with 'winter emergency plans' and prompt and outreach help to victims of the cold'. They are also keen to see this commitment to ending street homelessness by 2010 become a reality.

"The EU must work alongside the various homelessness organisations across Europe to ensure that the delivery of service is making a real difference to the lives of those who find themselves sleeping rough and vulnerable to attack, hypothermia and even death. They must also take decisive action now in order to reach the target of ending street homelessness by 2010." ENDS

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