Friday, February 3, 2012

Cold snap tests Greece's depleted welfare services

A cold snap that has killed dozens of people across Europe is testing Greece's whittled-down welfare services, which have been grappling deep cuts amid the nation's ongoing fiscal crisis.

In Athens, authorities have opened emergency shelters, including at the Olympic sports complex, to help warm the city's burgeoning ranks of poor and homeless people.

"We have a limited number of staff but we work round the clock, in addition to providing 1,250 free meals daily," said Dimitra Noussi, director of the city's homeless shelters and its solidarity support.

Temperatures in the capital Wednesday dropped below five degrees Celsius -- the lowest this year -- and elsewhere in Greece, the mercury plunged far below freezing.

Unlike many public services, Noussi said her 55-member team had thankfully been spared government-imposed staffing cuts as Greece struggles to slash its payroll and rein in deficits that have exploded the country's debt. Read More