Message sent! Check your Phone

Staff Picks

Staff Picks

Families Crumble In Greece's Economic Crisis

2y ago


Jason Farrell, Sky News correspondent, in Athens Seventy-year-old Eletharias cannot afford to go the supermarket any more, so for the past few months he has started rummaging for food in dustbins. He goes out in Athens at night so that no one sees. When Sky News met him, he was collecting onions from some wheelie bins. "Since my pension was cut, I can't buy food so I look through the garbage," he said, "I can only pray that things get better." He is among an increasing number of pensioners who have slipped into desperate poverty and rely on waste food to survive. Eletharias, 77, tells Sky News he can no longer afford to shop in the supermarket Irini Gkana, 77, and 80-year-old Argyro Hadri-Sotiraki get their sustenance from a downtown soup kitchen. On her way out of the complex, Irini stooped to pick up an apple lying on the pavement and squirreled it into her trolley bag. Life has not always been like this but the debt crisis has left them unable to provide for themselves for the first time since they were war children. "It is like during the war, we just can't afford to buy what we need," says Argvro. "The soup kitchen reminds me of the Nazi occupation in 1941." Irini agrees, adding: "The hunger." The young are also falling through the cracks of this economic crisis. Hundreds of children are now being looked after by SOS centres because their parents can no longer support them. Just outside of Athens Sky News met a group of six children. Three had come from one family, the other three from different parents. They had become a new family looked after by an employed SOS mother called Litza. When we arrived Litza was serving up a lunch of fried lung and lemon potatoes. SOS youth worker Pavlos Salichos told Sky News that demand for the charity's assistance had increased by 75% in two years. "There are many social factors - alcoholism, drugs and abuse - but the primary cause is economic," he said. "If you have both parents who are unemployed, they can become desperate and there is a psychological trauma for them too because they have to go to social services and tell them that they can't support their children anymore." Greece is struggling to support itself. There are no official figures but according to people in the trade an increasing number of women are turning to prostitution. As she touted for business on the streets, Anita, told Sky News she regularly checks herself for infection but she, like most sex workers, is not signed up to Greece's prostitution licensing system. She is unregulated, making her more vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking. Rough sleeping has also risen by 25%. Last week, a homeless man was beaten to death for the coins he had collected that day by another group of homeless people. There is no doubt the country is experiencing a severe economic crisis which is in danger of getting worse but Greece, a country so proud of family tradition and community spirit, has lost so much more than money.