Greece: the humanitarian crisis gets worse by the day

The other week, I did a blog entry saying that Greece was not just a story about financial disaster. It's also a story about a humanitarian crisis with unemployment there doubling, homelessness rising 25 per cent and there's been a 57 per cent increase in HIV infections from the previous year, most of that coming from drug abuse.

Now we have reports that budget cuts have created a food shortage in Greek prisons. Over at the prison in Corinth, there's a supply stoppage from the nearby military camp. Prison staff are saying that prisoners are about to starve since not even one grain of rice has been left in their warehouses. People working at the prison say they haven't received any state funds for the last three months. A few days earlier, the commander of the camp announced to prison management the transportation stoppage. He said there was a lack of food supplies even for the soldiers. That's shut down the last source of supply for 84 prisoners. Things have got so bad that the local residents have started doing food collections for the prisoners.

In addition, Reuters reports that deteriorating mental health in Greece is now the cost of a country in crisis. Research has found that people who fall into unemployment and poverty have a significantly greater risk of mental health problems. Men are at especially increased risk of mental illness, suicide or alcohol abuse during hard times. "In Greece, suicide rates are already rising rapidly, albeit from a low starting point. Suicides rose by 17 percent between 2007 and 2009, and by 40 percent in the first half of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010, according to a report in the Lancet medical journal last year. And judging from the experience of financial crises elsewhere, unemployment, poverty and insecurity will also lead to upward trends in demand for mental health services just as they are being cut back."

Photo source George M. Groutas


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