Greece has received fresh ammunition in its negotiations with creditors, as a new report about poverty in bailed-out countries paints a grim picture of the social cost of austerity. “The people paying the highest price currently are those who had no part in the decisions that led to the crisis, and the countries worst affected are amongst those with the biggest gaps in their social protection systems,” according to the latest “Crisis Monitoring Report” published Thursday (19 February 2015) by Caritas Europa, a pan-European charity. The study was carried out in seven countries who were particularly hit by the crisis and/or received international financial assistance in the past years: Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain. The report examines the situation of children, working poor, the unemployed, migrants and people with disabilities. Greece – currently at the crux of the anti-austerity debate in Europe – stands out as a particularly problematic case. Caritas Greece runs a soup kitchen and clothing delivery project, which has seen demand increase over the past year, both for Greek people and immigrants. “The number of Greek people that avail themselves of the social common meals has, in the observation of Caritas Greece, increased at an exponential rate – many of these people were until recently successful freelancers but now have no money to satisfy their basic living needs,” the report reads. “Within the past year, in particular, Caritas Greece has pointed to serious reductions in both income and purchasing capacity affecting all those on low wages, including the working poor, pointing in particular to the hardship caused by increased electricity charges and transport costs,” it adds. The left-wing government led by Alexis Tsipras, elected last month, has repeatedly spoken of a “humanitarian crisis” that the bailout-linked austerity has brought upon Greece. The Tsipras government has promised to pardon half of the debt of those who cannot afford to pay their taxes and focus on the rich tax-evading Greeks.
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