June 15 - With Greece on the verge of a crucial election, charities in one small town struggle to keep up with surging demand as the numbers of unemployed spiral just as social services are cut. Hayley Platt reports.
Residents of the Greek town of Aspropyrgos just outside Athens wait to collect their food parcels. It's become a weekly ritual. The government's harsh austerity measures have meant much needed social services have been drastically cut. So, more people like Evangelina are having to resort to charity handouts. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) EVANGELIA TILIAKOU, 42, SAYING: "For me personally (the worst thing) is that my dignity is being diminished day-by-day. I have to be up from seven-thirty to go and knock on doors, wait in line for hours to get the daily meal so that we can survive at home." Aspropyrgos was once a thriving industrial town, but now unemployment here is even higher than the national average - an already staggering 22 percent. With Greece scheduled to go back to the polls for the second time in six weeks, there is little hope the situation will soon improve. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) HOMEMAKER, KATERINI KARAGIANOPOULOU, 52 SAYING: "I expect nothing. In all these years nothing has changed, will it change now? Yes, we'll vote, we will vote but we don't expect anything." Lazaros Papagerorgiou is a local businessman and founder of the charity Bread for Action. He believes any rebound will take years...but for many, it will be too late. (SOUNDBITE) (English) "BREAD AND ACTION"FOUNDER LAZAROS PAPAGERORGIOU SAYING "Some of them they will lose their lives. Because, ok, in order to find food - ok you will find. In order to find medicines if you don't have the ability to buy medicines, then you die." Greece's poverty rate has now reached 20 percent. With unemployment at its highest level in decades, and the country continuing into its fifth year of recession the human cost of the on going crisis is becoming ever more acute. Hayley Platt, Reuters.