The cold scouring Europe, down to a bone
crunching 30 degrees Celsius in some places - is killing people who have no homes. Many of the more than 100 recent freeze victims have been homeless.
The death toll in Poland has been climbing alarmingly. Shelters are short on space.
People forced to live at the edges of society are being joined by more recent victims of austerity fallout.
Having no home is increasingly linked to a loss of employment. It is estimated that the recent economic shocks have cast six million people out of work. This year some one quarter of all Europeans are threatened by poverty and social exclusion. The number of them without shelter could be around three million. Countries great and small are both hit. Proportionally, France has the most. There has been a 25 percent increase in Greece in the past two years.
The Greeks have felt the fastest decline, with jobs drying up, personal and professional bankruptcies multiplying, the rate of suicide rising and drug use climbing.
A senior health official says: “In recent months we have added a new category to our list of suffering. We call them the ‘new homeless’, in other words citizens who became unemployed, and could not pay their bills, so they were evicted. This is a new profile for Greek society.”
The fiscal disciplinarian of Athens, Berlin, has overseen a reduction in the rate of people in Germany living without a home by half. But in the capital these recent nights, the shelters have been filling up.