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
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

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs