Athens.- The leader of
promote a campaign launched this week allowing supermarket shoppers at 10 chains and some 300 stores to donate food to church charities.
Ieronymos said the church was handing out 10,000 portions of food per day in greater Athens, with requests for a greater amount growing “every day.”
Referring to the drama experienced by thousands of poor people every day, the archbishop said “the scenes we see every day are shocking. I feel sad when I see our fellow man living below poverty level. These are days of celebration and joy, but we are filled with feelings of sadness. The Archdiocese is trying to help the suffering man and will continue to do this. I thank the players of the national team, who are sending their own message of love with their presence, because all of us together can overcome this crisis as well,” Ieronymos said, as scores of immigrants waited in heavy rain for foil parcels of macaroni and meat sauce.
He also said in a radio interview: “Every day, the message we get is that more food is needed … we must take care to consider people’s dignity and that of their families.”
Greece has taken harsh austerity measures since late 2009 to cut its huge budget deficits and in exchange for rescue loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.
The cuts have caused a sharp decline in living standards, with unemployment hovering at 18 percent and the U.N. International Labor Organization warning in a recent report that 20 percent of the crisis-hit country’s population is facing the risk of poverty.
Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis said the city was helping feed 200 school children of unemployed parents, following a spate of reports of malnourished students and even children fainting in class.
“There is an alarming rise in the number of homeless and people who are malnourished — and we have found cases of that in schools,” Kaminis told state-run NET radio.
“In a very discreet way, the city is handling their meal — there are about 200 children. I hope that number does not increase.”
Church volunteer Father Andreas, an Orthodox priest, said more young people are seeking help.
“The number of people needing help is growing every day … We get every kind of person. Lately there are more young people who have lost their jobs,” said the priest, whose small Athens parish hands out 65 food-rations per day, cooked in the church basemen by volunteers.
“We have chicken, meat and fish every day, except on days when the church observes a fast.”
Besides the Athens’ Archdiocese, every Metropolis has set food kitchens in local parishes serving poor and homeless. At the Metropolitan church of St Nicholas in Volos, 250-400 meals are served daily, adding to a total of 1,500 in the whole Volos vicinity.
LESS FOR GIFTS
More than half of Greeks said they are planning to spend less on gifts this year, according to a survey published on Tuesday. The survey, conducted by the Nielsen research company and published in the daily Kathimerini newspaper, found that 57 per cent of Greek consumers said they intend to cut their gift spending.
Within the European Union, Greece is second only to Portugal – where 67 per cent of consumers plan on spending less this year on presents – in terms of holiday frugality.
Roughly 52 per cent of Greeks said they will be spending less on clothes, electronic items, books and toys. The same survey found that 3 per cent of Greeks are planning to spend more this year on presents.
EXODUS TO GERMANY AND AUSTRALIA
Fresh figures show that immigration to Germany from countries hard-hit by Europe’s economic woes rose sharply in the first six months of the year. Germany’s Federal Statistical Office said Thursday that the number of Greek citizens moving to Germany rose by 84 percent on the year to about 8,900. It says the number of Spaniards settling in Germany from January through June rose by 49 percent to 7,250.The agency says a total of 381,000 foreigners moved to Germany, among them about 250,000 citizens from the European Union – an increase of 29 percent. EU citizens can move and settle freely across the bloc.Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, enjoyed robust growth in 2011, while Greece is mired in a deep recession and Spain seeks to battle an unemployment rate of about 20 percent.
In Australia aince June, Melbourne community leaders say they have been deluged with thousands of letters, emails and telephone calls from Greeks desperate to migrate to a country that, safeguarded from global market turbulence, is now seen as the land of unparalleled opportunity.
This year alone, 2,500 Greek citizens have moved to Australia although officials in Athens say another 40,000 have also “expressed interest” in initiating the arduous process to settle there. An 800-seat Australian government “skills expo” held in the Greek capital in October attracted some 13,000 applicants.
With Greece braced for a fifth year of recession, unemployment at a record 18% – and an unprecedented 42.5% of the nation’s youth out of work — the brain drain is only expected to grow. The Australian economy, by contrast, is predicted to grow 4% in 2012.