Greek Crisis
How Greece's Debt Crisis Affects Children and Families

Greek society is facing a major economic crisis that was triggered by the global financial crisis of 2008 and made worse by reforms that have increased taxes and cut social services. Now at around 25 percent, the unemployment rate in Greece—the highest in all of Europe—has left jobless parents unable to provide basic necessities to their children.

The number of children in Greece who live in poverty has risen from 23 percent in 2008 to 40.5 percent—also the highest in Europe (UNICEF). Schools across the country have been reporting alarming numbers of children who arrive to school with nothing to eat. In rural parts of Greece, children have been forced to drop out of school to help support their families. In some cases, parents have even given up their children to local charities because they can't afford to care for them.

What SOS Children’s Villages Is Doing to Help

Active in Greece since 1975, SOS Children's Villages currently run seven social centers where our trained staff of social workers, psychologists and educators provides immediate and long-term support to 1,150 vulnerable families, including 2,260 children.

In the past five years, we’ve reached 4,500 families through our critical services, which comprise:
  • Psychological support for parents and children;
  • Provision of material goods such as food and clothing;
  • Job-focused skills training for parents;
  • Educational assistance for children; and
  • Referral services for families with issues related to medical care, legal concerns or social services.
We also have three SOS Children’s Villages in Greece, where orphaned and abandoned children are placed in loving, stable homes with an SOS mother. There are currently 102 children growing up in an SOS family in Greece.

What’s Next for Families in Greece and How Will SOS Respond?
Greek crisis

Children at our social center in Crete, one of seven in Greece. (Photo credit: SOS-Greece)
A final agreement between Greece and its European lenders will impose even harsher austerity measures on an already vulnerable Greek society.

An editorial in the New York Times on July 13 said that the deal “will do little to address, much less repair, the slow-moving disaster of the Greek economy.” With the economy likely to worsen as a result of the deal, the number of families in need of critical support is expected to rise dramatically.

Therefore, SOS Children’s Villages is planning to expand our services in order to double the number of at-risk families who currently receive support at our existing seven social centers. We also plan to expand our food aid program to include 1,800 vulnerable families across the country.


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