Greek living standards have plummeted as unemployment, poverty, inequality and harsh austerity measures continue to rip away at the already frayed social fabric of the Mediterranean country.
While the global financial crisis has struck other euro zone countries hard, none have been forced to take out as many loans as Greece, whose “rescue” deals with the European Union and International Monetary Fund have come on the condition that austerity measures and deregulation be introduced by the government – allowing the country to avoid bankruptcy, yet transforming the Greek crisis into a recession and eventually, a major depression.
Eurostat data has shown that 22.2 percent of the population were "severely materially deprived" in 2015. Over 75 percent of households suffered a significant income reduction last year, a survey by business confederation GSEVEE and Marc pollsters found. A third had at least one unemployed member and 40 percent said they had to cut back on food spending. The Greek Ombudsman says a growing number of people struggle to pay utility bills. In a no-frills Athens neighborhood, a soup kitchen run by the Orthodox church serves 400 meals a day over four sittings in under two hours.
Now, the EU and IMF are demanding that the government of left-leaning coalition Syriza make a further 7 billion Euro (or US$7,428,050) payment by July or risk defaulting on its debt, which remains at a staggering 330 billion euros – over US$350 billion.
teleSUR takes a look at the human face of Greek poverty, a result of the rapacious lending policies of the imperialist powers and predatory creditors within the European Union.