France Children Unicef
Children play in fountains in Nice, southeastern France.Reuters

One in five French children lives in poverty, according to a Unicef report that will heap pressure on the government to deliver reforms to cut unemployment.

The United Nations agency said the number of minors facing hardship has grown consistently in recent years due to the economic crisis, with now three million children living below the poverty line across the country.

"Our report is an alarm call that should push French authorities to take urgent and efficient action for every child," said Unicef France chief Michele Barzach.

The report detailed how between 2008 and 2012 an extra 440,000 children fell into poverty.

"We know that they are paying the heaviest price for the economic crisis because poverty greatly hinders their development, makes them vulnerable in the long-term and puts their future in danger," the report read.

It added that, according to data published in November 2014, about 30,000 children are homeless, a figure that went up 44% between 2001 and 2012. Up to 10,000 others live in shantytowns, while 140,000 drop out of school every year, Unicef said.

UN agency figures also revealed that 28% of youths aged six to 18 has had suicidal thoughts, according to a 2014 survey on 11,232 children.

Barzach said that despite the shocking statistics, France was still a far better place to be born and raised than many other countries. However she said: "France has failed in part with regards to childhood and youth."

Unemployment in the country, the Eurozone second largest economy, reached a record high in April, with 3.53 million jobless people and is currently at more than 10%.

As he was elected in 2012, Socialist president Francois Hollande pledged to create more jobs and recently stated he would not stand for re-election in 2017 if he failed to do so.