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Friday 24 May 2013

UNICEF report: Rapid deterioration of living conditions in Greece

By @galaxyarchis, translated from Greek by @catalternative, edited by @pexlibanis

The  National UNICEF Committee in Greece presented a new report titled: "The state of children in Greece in 2013," which was prepared in collaboration with the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and describes the current living conditions of children in Greece, as well as a campaign and initiatives for vaccination of children in Greece and around the world. 

The  UNICEF report presents quite disturbing data concerning  child poverty, living conditions, protection issues and delinquency among Greek and immigrant children in Greece. The report connects the rapid deterioration of the situation with the underlying financial  crisis. The committee emphasizes that the crisis constitutes an inhibitory factor for the implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and for this reason urges Greece not only to  maintain social benefits but to expand them, especially for children. On the contrary, the policy that has been implemented these last  few years with regard to the distribution of social protection expenditure in Greece shows that benefits for the family/children category remain almost constant. The indifference of the public sector has been steady over this period and it seems not to react even under these tough financial conditions. Firstly, in terms of social protection expenditure in Greece, family/children benefits remained unchanged over the past 15 years. Secondly, the way in which the budget is established and implemented does not allow for identification of resources allocated for the implementation of the CRC, nor does the lack of systematic and specific data allow for monitoring compliance with it. 

Poverty in numbers

Child poverty in Greece increased by 6.1% the first year of implementation of the bailout alone (an increase by 27,000 individuals) as can be seen in the diagram below:

Child poverty in Greece 2003-2011 - Eurostat
(in thousands of individuals)

Even more alarming is data regarding children at risk of poverty or social  exclusion, since their number increased from 547,000 in 2010 to  597,000, meaning an increase by 9.1% among children, while for the total  population the equivalent figure is 12.3%. The report also emphasizes that the combination of individual variables that indicate poverty or social exclusion can reveal latent cases of extreme poverty. Children who live under cumulative conditions of multiple disadvantages, such as poverty, severe material deprivation and low employment intensity within the household, represented only 0.6% of the population in 2009 and 2010, while in 2011 this figure rose to 3.5%.

With regard to living conditions, 16.4% of minors appears to live in households suffering from severe material deprivation, meaning 322,000 children: this number increased by 89,000 individuals, or 38.2%, between 2010 and 2011. The same increase from 2010 to 2012 for the specific group of 6-11 year olds reaches 46.7%! Five out of ten households with children declare that they are unable to pay for a one-week vacation,  while almost four out of ten have difficulties to meet utility bills, credit card installments and loans. Lastly, from 2009 to 2011, the  percentage of children aged up to 17 who live in a family where no one has a job has doubled:

% of children (up to age 17) living in households
where no one has a job (2002-2011) - Eurostat

In a separate section of the report, UNICEF mentions the issue of citizenship, defining it as a crucial right for every child, as well as a requirement for exercising other rights or enjoying various favorable measures, both before and after reaching adulthood. The fact that law 3838/2010 was deemed unconstitutional resulted in concerns about the realization of the aforementioned  right. It is worth noting that children of immigrants face  additional blanket police measures, for having merely entered the country. According to official police records, from 2006 until today there have been  approximately 84,500 arrests of children for "illegal entrance and residence" in Greece.

Two further extremely grave issues must be added to the above. On the one hand, children in Greece are more exposed to accidents than the Eurozone average. The mortality rate from accidents related to  transportation and mobility in 2010 for 15-19 year-olds was as high as 17.8% while the EU average was 9.2%. On the other hand, juvenile delinquency has increased dramatically between 2010 and 2011 by 53.4%, while for perpetrators aged 9-13, this figure reaches 58%.

Lastly, the report also mentions a very crucial aspect that often goes unnoticed by the media: the increase of emigration of Greeks, for which the total number from 2008 until today is 357,820 people, of which 52,299 are less than 19 years of age and 36,466 less than 14 years old (14.6% and 10.2% respectively).

About the report
The  research for the National UNICEF Committee in Greece was conducted by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, under the direction of professor Dimosthenis I. Daskalakis, President of the Faculty of Primary Education, with researchers Giorgos Mpougioukos and Vasilis Fasoulis.

You can download the UNICEF report in Greek (in .pdf format) here: «Η κατάσταση των παιδιών στην Ελλάδα - 2013»

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