October 10, 2013
The Red Cross says that the financial crisis in Europe has left 43 million of its citizens with insufficient food to eat, calling it the worst humanitarian crisis over a half century.
Bekele Geleta, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) presented a report in Geneva on Thursday over the impacts of the economic crisis.
The report also showed that some 120 million Europeans face the risk of poverty and many continue to suffer in countries that are in the process of recovering financially.
“People’s lives have been thrown into turmoil and there seems to be a gradual degradation, with millions existing on a day-to-day basis, with no savings and no buffer to withstand any unforeseen expenses,” said Geleta and added, “Europe is facing its worst humanitarian crisis in six decades.”
The Red Cross surveyed 22 of its national organizations in Europe and found that the impacts of the euro-crisis have led to more people coming to the humanitarian organization to ask for treatment, financial assistance to buy medications or help fill in forms for benefits.
According to the report, 3.5 million people in Europe are receiving food aid by the Red Cross, which is 75 percent more than three years ago.
“While we fully understand that governments need to save money, we strongly advise against indiscriminate cuts in public health and social welfare, as it may cost more in the long run,” warned Geleta.
The report also showed that poverty is not only affecting countries such as Latvia, where food aid has more than tripled in three years, but also richer European nations, including France.
More than 350,000 people living in France have fallen into poverty since 2009, a trend which is also seen in many other European countries, according to the report.
The European financial crisis began in early 2008. Insolvency now threatens heavily debt-ridden countries such as Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and Spain.
The worsening debt crisis has forced EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered massive demonstrations in many European countries.