Unemployment in Portugal is at a record high and has seen the nation achieve the unwanted title of being Western Europe’s poorest country. With hundreds of thousands of people struggling to get by the nations poor is set to receive another blow, this time to their dinner plates.
The European Union is set to cut the funding for its food aid programmes with Portugal likely to lose up to 40% of its funding. Instead the EU intends to replace the much needed aid fund with the Fund for European Aid.
According to the Food Banks charity the new fund will have fewer resources for food and the Portuguese government has not made any plans to deal with the reduction in funding.
“Unlike in other countries, Portugal does not yet have a plan to make up for the changes or for a delay in the new scheme coming through, so there may be an interruption in our distribution of food,” said Isabel Jonet, the Food Bank charity’s head.
Since the Eurocrisis began Portugal’s situation has worsened with official data released in July showing that up to 22% of Portuguese citizens were suffering from material deprivation and 9% from severe deprivation. People are considered materially deprived when their income is not enough to meet basic needs like having a meal of fish or meat every other day, pay for rent, or warm their homes. In this day and age, in Europe these figures are shocking.
“Requests for help are piling up. We have many new unemployed and members of middle-class families who lost their jobs and now need help, please think about those who struggle, many of them are not speaking up because they are ashamed. Please consider all the other bad things the government is already doing to us,” said Susana Ambrosio, director of the Maria Roque Pereira Foundation, a partner of Food Bank.
In 21st century Europe it is a crime to have so many going hungry, the European Union was supposed to provide wealth and security to its member citizens, the situation is similar in Spain, Greece and Italy and is likely to occur in Cyprus as its economy contracts rapidly.
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