Feature

Greece: A people reduced to desperation

The economic crisis has brought record unemployment of over 16 percent for the general population and 33 percent for workers younger than 30, said Giorgos Pouliopoulos at To Vima.

Giorgos PouliopoulosTo Vima

Greeks are resorting to scrabbling through the garbage, said Giorgos Pouliopoulos. In the past “only tramps and Roma” rooted in trash bins. But now average Greeks have joined their less-fortunate neighbors in the ranks of trash pickers. “Many of them are looking for things to sell, but others are searching for food.” This is our grim new reality.

The economic crisis has brought record unemployment of over 16 percent for the general population and a wrenching 33 percent for workers younger than 30. Those lucky enough to still have jobs “have had their wages cut.” Pensioners have had their monthly stipends reduced. Yet under the austerity plan the EU and IMF have demanded as a price for their loans to keep our government afloat, social spending has been slashed, leaving fewer programs to help the growing ranks of the needy. One restaurant owner says he now sees some of his former customers lurking out back, poking through the discarded scraps from his kitchen. “They can’t afford to buy meat even once a month,” he says.

For now, nobody is actually starving. But how long can Greeks survive by scavenging? How long before they reach a breaking point?

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