The children of Europe are on the frontline of the economic crisis,according to a report from UNICEF. Since 2008, 2.6 million children have fallen into poverty in the wealthiest OECD and EU member states. The figures are shocking with more than one child in every five living in poverty.
Since 2008, the percentage of households with children that don’t have the means to buy red meat, chicken or fish every two days has more than doubled in Estonia, Greece and Italy.
In Portugal, children have paid the high price of austerity: more than half a million minors have lost the right to benefits. This is a drop of 30% of those receiving state help between 2009 and 2012. At the height of the recession the school canteen was the only place where many youngsters ate a full meal. Many were even open during school holidays.
In Spain families with children have taken a giant leap back to levels not seen in a decade. Greatly affected by the recession, Spain lies in third place behind Greece and Latvia in terms of child poverty with the middle class particularly affected.
“Before we had less Spaniards, but now because of the situation that we are experiencing there are more Spaniards coming here for children’s clothes,” explained Nunci Cunado, the dounder of a clothes programme for the Red Cross in Madrid.
The crisis has also struck teenagers hard. In the EU 7.5 million young people are neither working nor studying. This represents a jump of 1 million when compared with 2008. It’s a grave threat for the future, these Irish parents believe.
“Most of our children or probably even the next generation will end up emigrating, because there’s nothing in Ireland,” explained Michelle Myers.
“It is going to be tough for the kids when they grow up, especially with no jobs for them,” added David Myers.
UNICEF warns that an entire generation will be marked by this poverty, which could reduce the birth rate. Levels of productivity and growth could also be affected as well as citizens faith in the government and democracy.