With over 26 million out of work across the European Union, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says it finds itself under increased pressure to provide assistance to struggling citizens. Europe Zone Red Cross director Anitta Underlin reports that last year, for the first time, “[t]he Spanish Red Cross decided to collect money for the people in Spain…They normally collect money to send to Africa and to Asia or to vulnerable people elsewhere.” In Denmark, the Red Cross has seen a 100 percent increase in the number of people requesting assistance.
What’s the Big Idea?
The findings come from a survey of the IFRC’s national societies asking for information about the effects of Europe’s ongoing economic crisis on their activities. As jobs disappear and governments tighten their belts, more citizens are being deprived of basic needs, but former Hungarian Red Cross director Georg Habsburg says that the numbers of people being affected are deceiving: “This is a big quiet majority that is suffering very much.” Compounding the problem is a decrease in public and private funding for IFRC operations.