Homeless people in Greece have staged a silent march, calling on the government to provide them with healthcare and improved social services.
The protestors  took to the streets of central Athens on Friday, urging the authorities to provide basic medical and sanitation facilities. The demonstrators were carrying placards reading, “We have no slogans. We have demands.” The symbolic march was organized by the Athens-based non-governmental aid agency, Klimaka. An estimated 20,000 people are homeless in Greece, mostly in Athens. A study by Klimaka last year found that nearly half of those sleeping rough have children, and one in five has a college degree. Klimaka estimates that homeless in Greece have increased by 25 to 30 percent since 2009 following the country's crippling debt crisis. The country’s unemployment rate stands at more than double the eurozone's average unemployment reading of 12 percent, reflecting a deepening recession after years of austerity imposed under the EU bailout plan. Greece has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is experiencing its sixth year of recession, while harsh austerity measures have left about half a million people without jobs. The EU and IMF have presented Greece with two rescue packages in return for specific austerity measures, which include the cutting of public sector salaries and pensions, increasing taxes and overhauling the pension system. The country’s business sector has contracted by 22 percent since 2008, with the economy expected to shrink 4.5 percent this year. The worsening debt crisis has forced the EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries.