News / Europe

    Red Cross Struggling to Aid Europe's 'New Poor'

    A homeless man holds a sign that reads "I am hungry" in the northern port town of Thessaloniki, Greece, Jan. 15, 2013.
    A homeless man holds a sign that reads "I am hungry" in the northern port town of Thessaloniki, Greece, Jan. 15, 2013.
    Lisa Schlein
    The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) reports it is struggling to provide assistance to increasing numbers of new poor in Europe.
     
    The latest statistics by the European Union show more than 26 million people are out of work across the 27 EU nations, which remain in the grip of an economic recession, with many more unemployed in the rest of Europe and Central Asia.
     
    After surveying their 52 national societies (IFRC chapters) to determine how the crisis is affecting their activities and ability to cope with the increased needs, IFRC officials warn that millions are suffering from welfare cuts and lack of food aid and medical care, and that many face evictions and homelessness.
     
    The French Red Cross is reporting a 14 percent increase since last year in the number of people asking for assistance. The Danish Red Cross says at Christmas it had a 100 percent increase in the number of people asking for aid since 2009. Lithuania reports that it has increased its food distribution from 30,000 people in 2006 to 100,000 people in 2012.
     
    Europe Zone Red Cross Director Anitta Underlin says the growing number of people turning to the Red Cross for assistance shows the depth of the crisis.
     
    “For the first time ever last year at the annual collection day, the Spanish Red Cross decided to collect money for the people in Spain. It is the first time ever," she said. "They normally collect money to send to Africa and to Asia or to vulnerable people elsewhere. For the first time, the crisis is so high in Spain that they decided to aim at their own country.”
     
    Georg Habsburg, former president of the Hungarian Red Cross, says countries in Central Europe are reeling from the economic recession. In Hungary, he says, 31 percent of the population is affected by poverty and worsening living conditions.
     
    “When you suddenly are confronted with a letter, people writing you, ‘Please, can you provide me with firewood because if I have to think about how to heat my apartment in winter times; I do not know how to buy food,' ... [you realize] this is a big quiet majority that is suffering very much," he said.
     
    The Red Cross says it is unfortunate that government and donor support for Red Cross operations are decreasing at the same time the needs of people across Europe are increasing.

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    Comments
         
    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    January 31, 2013 2:52 PM
    The US is a country, the EU is not. The sit of some of the countries in the EU is very dire; Spain, over 26% unemployment, Greece pushing 30%, Slovenia pushing over 22% etc. The UK now has over 500,000 Polish people in it and so on. These migrations will continue because there is a massive unbalance in the production capacity distribution in the EU. The economic policies of the EU (Union), opened the markets, but did not share the production capacities. The production capacities are an impacting issue in the efficiency and the optimization of products. The end result is that Germany, which has the largest production capacity in many, if not most, products greatly benefited from the opening of the markets. In many cases, the German production overcapacity is far greater than the combined production capacity, in the particular product, of all the total production capacity of the smaller nations in the E Union. Germany is the 3rd (or 4th) largest GDP/producer/exporter in the world. The Smaller EU nations can't possibly compete against the German producers; end result was that many of the producers in the smaller nations, that used to employ people and supply the internal makets, have been forced out of business. Employment prospects are not good at all in those small countries for good paying jobs. For the entire situation to improve, in the small EU countries, an economic change needs to occur, essentially a rebalance and distribution of the production side of the open markets needs to be addressed, or for ever more the smaller countries will not be able to provide meaningful employment for their citizens. Thus opening markets with out ensuring a production re- balance has been a tragedy for many of the small countries in the EU.

    by: david from: us
    January 31, 2013 12:03 PM
    EU has 500 million people and 26 million are out of work,- that is 5%)
    They are doing better then United States

    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    January 30, 2013 5:09 PM
    The terrible tight economic policies in the EU will destroy the fibre of many societies; as you reach 25%-30% unemployment; entire social groups will start falling appart. Such economic policies are a total recepe for social disaster. At the end of the day, Mrs. Merckel will regret pushing the rest of the EU into a a disastrous economic abbys. The disentegration of the social norms and classes, will create a massive number of economic migrants, most of which will end up in the countries with the best social/economic benefits. Such a migration will end up raising ugly nationalist and racist groups, that resent migrants. It is unfortunate, that the people of Greece, who normally are happy and easy going, are starting to experience the bad effects of terrible economic policies. Spain, a normally happy and easy going people, also are starting on a path, from which recovery will be difficult, if at all; centrifugal forces will drive Spain appart. France is also in a oneway situation, and it will be a very ugly outcome. There is a need to economically rebalance internal national markets and the national workforces. Down stream, protection of home markets,supply/demand, through tarriffs will not be avoided; these tarriffs can be eased as conditions improve. Economies can't recover without markets, and those markets start at home for home produced products. Worse case scenario is the spectrum of revolutions.

    by: famullar from: Dar-Es-Salaam Tanzania
    January 30, 2013 3:40 PM
    Eurozone banks are continuing to tighten their lending rules even as their own access to funding is improving, the European Central Bank said on Wednesday. But demand for credit in the 17 countries that share the euro could soon be stabilising, adding to evidence of a calming in the financial markets, ECB data showed. In its latest quarterly Bank Lending Survey, which quizzed a sample of 131 banks in the euro area, the ECB said slightly more banks said they would tighten the criteria that businesses must meet to take out loans in the first quarter of the year. A net 15 percent of respondents indicated they would do so, after a net 13 percent of banks had already tightened their credit standards in the fourth quarter, the survey -- conducted between December 14 and January 10 -- showed. At the same time, the survey found that banks' access to retail and wholesale funding had improved in the fourth quarter of 2012 and would continue to do so in the first quarter of this year. On the demand side, overall demand for loans remained weak but could soon be showing the first signs of stabilisation, the survey said. While euro area banks "continued to report a pronounced net decline in demand for loans to enterprises in the fourth quarter of 2012," there was a less pronounced decline in demand for loans to households for house purchase and for consumer credit, it said. Looking ahead to the current quarter, "banks expect a less pronounced net decline in demand for loans to enterprises," the ECB added. Earlier this week, separate ECB data showed that demand for credit remains weak, with Eurozone bank loans to the private sector declining by 0.7 percent in December compared with the same month in 2011 after already shrinking by 0.8 percent in November. Nevertheless, analysts believed the financial markets are slowly on the mend. I thank you Firozali A.Mulla DBA

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