Greek families, children struggling desperately against consequences of economic crisis


Social kitchen's "the other human" volunteers and laid off cleaning staff of the Greek finance ministry prepare meal portions for the protesting cleaning ladies at their camp staged the finance ministry in Athens on May 13 , 2014.
The hardship has mounted as the living conditions of children were worsened dramatically after their parents lost their jobs.
29.05.2014 - (NEW EUROPE)
An unprecedented number of children in Greece are suffering from the consequences of a four-year economic crisis, but their families are struggling hard to make ends meet amid record high unemployment and recession, statistics show.
About 686,000 Greek children, or 35.4 percent of the total, are facing the risk of poverty and social exclusion, according to recent data released by the Greek National Committee of UNICEF.
With approximately 28 percent of Greece's working force currently rendered jobless, the number of minors growing up in unemployed households has increased 70 percent in four years.
The hardship has mounted as the living conditions of children were worsened dramatically after their parents lost their jobs and social and health insurance as a result of a steep cut in social welfare benefits in the country.

The Greek government has introduced tough fiscal austerity measures under an international bailout program to avert a default. About 2 million people out of Greece's 10-million population have lost their access to insurance.
With their savings running out, many Greek families who failed to get financial support from their debt-ridden employers, turned to non-governmental organizations (NGO)for food, clothing, health care and even psychological support.
To make things worse, Greece's Ombudsman and NGO officials are talking of an increasing number of children who were forced to work to help support their families.
According to the national statistics agency ELSTAT, approximately 6,000 minors were working in 2012. Unconfirmed estimates have put the figure well above 100,000.
In connection with such a grim reality, school dropout rates have also risen. Eurostat statistics showed that 11.4 percent of Greece's student population discontinued their studies in 2012.
Although the overall picture is bleak at the moment, many Greek people, including parents, teachers, social workers and experts interviewed by Xinhua, seemed less pessimistic about their future.
"Don't lose hope, keep fighting, and better days will come," said many of them.
Mary Kilki, a 35-year-old unemployed mother of two children considers herself and her middle class family more fortunate than many of her neighbors and friends.
Kilki's husband still works, though his income has fallen by about a third compared with his pre-crisis earnings. They can manage to provide basic necessities of life for their kids, and get extra financial support from their pensioner parents.
"With the economic crisis, we have reconsidered our priorities and cut unnecessary expenses. We try to find alternative ways of entertainment with our kids. We go to parks, for example. If they are happy, we are happy as well," she told Xinhua.
She tries to shield her children from widespread anxiety and teach them how to be happy with less.
"My first child can enjoy swimming or ballet dancing at a very early age. We had the financial ease to take her to more than one activity and to socialize with other babies," she said.
"But we cannot do the same with our second one. She's gonna to use her sister's clothes, her shoes and her toys. But we will make it," she added.
Mary Kostourou, a 17-year-old high school student, who was brought up in a better-off family, felt the uncertainty and stress around her.
She saw her schoolmates battered with hunger. She might think twice before asking her parents for money to go out for fun. She even had to invite her friends to come home instead.
Mary is to take an entrance exam for university this week. She hopes to get a high score so that she can study in a school in Athens.
"I simply cannot study in a place away from my home. My parents could not afford the rent in another city," she said.
For Matina Antoniou, a social worker with the "11525 Together for Children Help Line", a counseling service for children, adolescents, parents and teachers, the situation is challenging.
"Every day parents call us for help. Families who are financially strained made calls to us to ask where they can get their basic needs, such as food, clothes and other essentials," she told Xinhua.
The service was launched in 2009 by the NGO "Together for Children", with its mission-statement being "power through unity".
Antoniou strongly believes that this is the only way to help people tide over the ongoing crisis.
In addition, Greek experts like Antoniou and Stergios Sifnios are gravely concerned that families which were among the middle class in the past have now become "nouveau-poor" in the crisis-hit era. They were descending into a state of poverty not because of the traditional factors that caused poor families, such as the status of migrants, single parent households, and drugs or alcohol addicts.
Sifnios is the director of Social Service and Research at SOS Children' s Villages, a charity association that has for three decades helped build families in new permanent homes for children in need -- the orphaned, abandoned, abused or those whose families are unable to care for.
Since 2011, the charity has expanded its program to set up support centers for families which need mostly financial help to keep children with their parents, he said.
Currently, SOS Children's Villages is helping about 1,800 such families. The figure has doubled in one year.
"We are facing an entire generation living under great stress. We cannot tell what kind of problems and to what extent these young people will face as they are growing up," he explained.
The current social safety net is not sufficient, and NGOs cannot give an ultimate magic solution, except for some support of relief, he added.
Sifnios is not optimistic that the situation will improve in the short term, but he works hard to keep hope afloat for those children in dire need of help.
by Alexia Vlachou, Maria Spiliopoulou

 More than a third of Greek children at risk of poverty in 2012 (UNICEF)

ANA-MPA -- Conditions for children have deteriorated in Greece in recent years, as a result of a reduction in welfare benefits, rising parental unemployment, poverty and insufficient access to healthcare, according to UNICEF's report "State of Children in Greece 2014 - The repercussions of the economic crisis on children," released on Thursday.

More than a third of the child population, specifically 686,000 children or 35.4 pct of the total, were considered at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2012. The percentage had risen from 30.4 pct in 2011, with children of one-parent families (74.7 pct) and three-child-plus families (43.7 pct) the most at risk. Children living in households with no working adults rose to 292,000 or 13.2 pct of the total in 2012, having increased by 204,000 compared with 2008.

The report, compiled by UNICEF's Greek Committee in collaboration with the University of Athens, was presented during a press conference on Thursday that also announced the annual UNICEF radiothon for children throughout the world, due to take place on April 10.

The report showed that the number of children in Greece was smaller than in 2001, with the underage population having shrunk 9 pct based on a 2011 census, at a faster rate than the overall population, which fell by 1.1 pct. Specifically, children under 18 accounted for 17.5 pct of the country's permanent inhabitants (51.2 pct boys and 48.8 pct girls), though the number of children belonging to migrant or foreign families increased, rising 11.8 pct relative to 2001 and accounting for 9.6 pct of the underage population in Greece (from 7.8 pct in 2001).

Foreign nationals at risk of poverty in Greece came to 43.7 pct in 2012, while for children of foreign nationals this percentage was even higher at 53.1 pct, from 49.6 pct in 2011.

Living conditions for children deteriorated, with 74.1 pct of poor households with children and 29.5 pct of non-poor households with children saying they were unable to meet the cost of unplanned but also daily spending, including payment of bills, loans and the cost of a diet that included chicken, meat, fish or vegetables every second day. Roughly 86.5 pct of poor households with children said they did not have enough money to spend for a week's holiday in 2012.

Welfare payments decreased by 4.9 pct in 2011 relative to 2009, while a significant number of children in Greece had no access to health care because their parents had lost their state social insurance coverage.

Another repercussion of the economic crisis was to extend the age of dependency beyond childhood, with high rates of poverty (32.3 pct) and youth unemployment (58.6 pct) among 16-24 year olds leading young people in their 20s (73.3 pct) to stay with their parents well into adulthood, with the average age for leaving the parental home rising to 29.1 years old in 2012.

The majority of the statistics used to compile the report were collected in 2011-2012 and not the following years, though authors noted that the trends showed a further deterioration in quality of life and greater poverty in households and, by extension, for children.



UNICEF: A third of minors in Greece at risk of poverty

The quality of life of children in Greece has worsened due to cuts in social benefits, a growing number of unemployed parents, increasing poverty levels and inadequate access to medical care, according to a report by the children’s charity UNICEF, whose findings were made public on Thursday.
The report found that the number of children in the country who were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2012 rose to 686,009, or 35.4 percent of the total, up from 30.4 percent in 2011.
A total of 292,000 children, or 13.2 percent of all minors in Greece, were living with parents or guardians who were unemployed, the report found.
In 2008, before the crisis, this number was 88,000.


Σχετικά με τον συντάκτη της ανάρτησης:

Η ιστοσελίδα μας δημιουργήθηκε το 2008.
Δείτε τους συντελεστές και την ταυτότητα της προσπάθειας. Επικοινωνήστε μαζί μας εδώ .

κανένα σχόλιο

Leave a Reply