News / Europe

Warnings of Humanitarian Crisis in Greek Port Town

A man prepares to leave his shop next to an empty one with a sign reading "For Rent" in Piraeus port-town near Athens, May 29, 2012.
A man prepares to leave his shop next to an empty one with a sign reading "For Rent" in Piraeus port-town near Athens, May 29, 2012.
Henry Ridgwell
PERAMA, Greece - Aid workers say the Greek economic crash is causing a humanitarian crisis in one impoverished suburb of the port city of Piraeus. 

Most of the residents of Perama are unemployed and many are unable to afford basic healthcare or provisions. 

Bankrupt

The rusting hull of a super-yacht sits on Perama dockside, a project started and abandoned four years ago when the shipbuilding company went bankrupt.

The shipyard is eerily quiet, the first hint of the disaster unfolding in this hillside town.

Shipbuilding and maintenance, the industrial lifeblood of Perama, are all but dead. 

Panayiotis Karagiannakis, the president of the dock-workers' union, says these days the situation here at the shipyard is tragic.  Unemployment has reached 90 percent.  Nothing has been done to modernize the facilities to adapt to the needs of the industry.

In 2010 the main dockyard operations in Piraeus, one of Europe's busiest ports, were sold to the Chinese company Cosco. But Karagiannakis says the workers do not blame the Chinese.

"Our problem is not that China implements a shipping policy, but the fact that Greece, the Greek government does not do the same," he said.  "We have the ability, owning such a vast fleet, to support this industry and promote it.  This is not happening because we lack the political will, he added."

Health care

In the maze of streets leading up from the port lies an emergency health clinic.

It is run by the Greek branch of Doctors of the World, an aid agency more used to war zones and famines.  Doctor Meropi Manteou volunteers at the center.

She says the greatest problem concerns children.  Children who cannot get access to vaccinations and who cannot receive medical care.  The second biggest problem here is patients who recently lost their health care insurance.  They receive prescriptions, but they cannot afford them anymore.

A debate erupts between patients over who is to blame for Perama's plight.

Human tragedy

One middle-aged lady says she has been unemployed since 2008.  She says she is searching for work like a dog, but cannot find anything.  She says she would even clean toilets.  She says she would do it for her grandchildren, who she says are starving.

In their tiny house, Spiridoula Firlemi tries to care for her three-month-old son. The ceiling is caving in.  Her husband, a plumber, has had no decent work for three years.

She says now the electricity bill has come, it is more than $1,500.  She says they will cut it off and maybe she will get electricity from a neighbor, because she cannot leave the baby in the cold.

This is a community that feels abandoned, with no work and no hope.  Aid agency Doctors of the World warns this is the start of a humanitarian crisis, within the borders of the European Union.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Cristiano from: Brazil
May 31, 2012 2:07 PM
I don't really know who is to blame for this tragic situation in Greece.

But I do know that something must be done right now, or things will get irrecoverably worse.


by: Factual Dose
May 31, 2012 11:50 AM
Greece is paying the price for faulty system. Greeks do everything humanly possible to avoid paying state tax, but they also enjoy flaunting on borrowed money. Next time choose the right politicians for office.


by: Peter Kikareas from: USA
May 30, 2012 6:56 PM
I could never believe that this might happen into a EU full member Country. I have strong worries that something is
going very wrong. This chaos and anarchy that has started
inside the European Union has never been experienced before
after the second world war.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid