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Situation in Athens 'incredibly worrying' as Greek debt crisis continues

03 July 2015


I stand at the door: Fr Theoklitos at a locked bank in Athens on Wednesday

I stand at the door: Fr Theoklitos at a locked bank in Athens on Wednesday

CHURCHES and charities are unable to help relieve the suffering being experienced by the Greek people as the financial crisis escalates, because their own bank accounts have been frozen.

The Senior Chaplain of St Paul's, Athens, Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, said that the situation was "incredibly worrying. Everyone is full of anxiety and fear. . . Charities and churches who work with the elderly and the poor are struggling to find money themselves. Our own bank accounts have been frozen.

"There is nothing here, no money coming in - we have been completely cut off. We can't do much at all to support those in financial hardship."

The banks have been closed for a week, and a limit of €60 per day has been imposed on customers taking money from cash machines. Pensioners were unable to collect their pensions on the usual day, Tuesday; but, on Wednesday, the government announced that pensioners would be able to take out €120 to last them the week.

The government has called a referendum on Sunday to enable the public to vote whether to accept the terms of a bailout deal offered by their creditors, who are led by Germany.

But the referendum document, Canon Bradshaw said, was four pages long, and contained complex details, and information about the EU.

"Many people did not understand it, and might well say: "We have a government that supports Greece, and we will vote in the way they want, which is to vote no."

Canon Bradshaw said that, although he and his wife could leave for Britain, he would not go. "It would be like the captain leaving the sinking ship. I am here to represent the Archbishop of Canterbury. He has written this week to the Archbishop of Athens to express his concern at the situation."

He asked for prayer. "I would ask people to pray that wisdom may prevail in Brussels and in Greece. I know we have many supporters who will want to help us to help those who are suffering, when the banks are open again. But will they open again? And, if they do, will they be empty?"

Welfare provision is in near collapse, it has been reported. The number of people using a homeless shelter in Athens has more than doubled in five months.

The charity Médecins du Monde was set up in Athens to treat sex workers and drug addicts, but is now spending most of its time and resources helping ordinary Greeks with emergency health-care.

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