Understanding the Human Toll of Greece's Crisis
Greece’s financial crisis over the past several years has led to hardships for many of the 10.8 million people in this country. Families face an uncertain and stressful future because their income, pensions, social and health benefits have all been slashed by government-imposed austerity measures.
A Humanitarian Emergency
- 1 out of 2 people under the age of 25 is unemployed; and over 26% of the population overall is unemployed.
- Cuts to public funds have left hospitals in perilous situations. Doctors and medical staff struggle daily to care for patients without essential supplies like surgical gloves, syringes, vials for blood samples and suture needles.
- Middle- and lower-income families are disproportionately affected.
- Lower incomes and pensions, coupled with rising costs, mean that families and the elderly struggle to pay for food and utilities. More times than not, they go without. Many children suffer from malnutrition.
- Since 2015, Greece has seen a massive increase in immigrants and asylum seekers arriving by sea to the eastern Aegean islands. Again because of the cuts to public sector funds, immigrant reception centers are crumbling. Access to basic needs (food, shelter, sanitary facilities) are inadequate.
Generous Supporters Like You Are Making A Difference in Greece
Thanks to you, IOCC has been sending aid in a variety of ways to the people of Greece. Since 2012, in cooperation with Apostoli (the humanitarian arm of the Holy Archdiocese of Athens), the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and Greek-American organizations, IOCC has has already provided over $23 million to the people of Greece. Thank you! Without the support of donors like you, this assistance isn’t possible.
Progress has been made, but the crisis is far from over. Your money will:
- Help families put more food on the table with dry food parcels and prepaid grocery cards
- Provide heating fuel for the most vulnerable: orphans, the elderly and people with disabilities
- Increase food production through the development of more farm cooperatives and producers associations
- Send more life-saving medical supplies to public hospitals and clinics throughout Greece
- Provide basic necessities for refugees and migrants who continue to arrive
How You're Helping the People of Greece
During the last three winters nearly three dozen social institutions in northern Greece received heating fuel. Thousands of orphans, elderly, abused children and the disabled have benefited and they’re hoping to receive more from you this year.
More than 6,300 people receive food assistance each month. This includes:
- Dry food parcels to families and the elderly struggling to cover the basics (distributed through church parishes)
- Prepaid grocery cards that allow families with small children to buy local fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, chicken and dairy products
- Financial support of an Athens soup kitchen feeding 1,200 people a day – the largest in Greece.
Without basic supplies hospitals can’t properly treat patients. IOCC has used your donations to give $18 million in medical supplies and equipment to 70 public hospitals, as well as to free clinics throughout the country. Your generosity has contributed vital items including gloves, gauze bandages, syringes, face masks, breathing tubes, surgical tools, wheelchairs, and walkers. Yet more is desperately needed.
Unemployed parents can’t afford even basic items like notebooks and pencils for their school-aged children. Thanks to our donors, IOCC distributed 30,000 school kits filled with supplies (e.g., paper, pencil, erasers, rulers, etc.). Children in greater Athens and on 18 Greek islands received the kits. And in Attica, a particularly hard-hit area of Athens, over 1,100 school aged children from low income families received vouchers at the beginning of a new school year allowing them to purchase more than 42,000 school supplies needed to learn.
Fortunately agriculture is one of the few sectors of the Greek economy that has weathered the financial storm. As a result, some city dwelling Greeks are moving to rural areas in hopes of making a living. A new IOCC initiative is helping to ensure these families are successful. Twenty-four farm cooperatives (benefiting an estimated 800 families) are receiving financial and technical support to improve the productivity and profitability of the farmland.
The locally sourced fresh foods that IOCC supplies for our grocery card project are also providing income to more than 500 Greek families. In addition, IOCC is partly funding the employment of 7 young people hired to collect, pack, and distribute donated dry food items through Apostoli’s food banks and its soup kitchen in Athens.
Refugees and migrants arriving in Greece have overwhelmed local authorities on the Aegean islands of Chios, Samos, Lesvos, Kos, and the mainland. It’s also created an added financial burden on the country’s already depleted social services. In 2016, IOCC provided a measure of comfort with a renovation of the refugee centers in Chios and Samos by refurbishing sanitary facilities and repairing electricity. Thousands of emergency food, baby and personal hygiene kits and jackets were distributed in Chios, Samos and Kos. In Athens, over 10,000 hot meals have been distributed to migrants arriving to the capital, and IOCC continues programming in the greater Athens area to support informal settlements with heating, water, and food needs, and to provide basic education for unaccompanied refugee minors so that they can keep up with their studies.
Your Gift at Work
Two-year-old Electra sits patiently during an exam by a volunteer doctor at a free clinic in Athens, Greece.
She represents the face of the new poor in Greece, where working class families like hers are losing jobs, homes, and access to healthcare because of the country's deepening recession. Thanks to you, thousands of vulnerable children like Electra can continue to seek basic care.
Argyro (age 43), is unemployed and a single parent. She is in the prepaid grocery card program. This means she can shop for fresh fruits, vegetables and milk alongside her neighbors rather than collect aid at distribution centers.
“For the first time in such a long time, I can choose the kind of food my family needs,” said a grateful Argyro. She added, “It feels like I’m in charge and not receiving charity, but receiving a gift.”
"I just want my children to be safe and happy," said the tearful and exhausted mother, Amina. "There was nothing we could do in Syria, with our lives in danger all the time."
Amina, her husband and three young sons made an arduous trek through Lebanon and into Turkey, where they hiked a grueling 200 miles across the country to reach a boat that would carry them to safety in Greece. They’re so very grateful for the help you provide.