If you don’t think this can happen here in say the next 5-15 years, you’re kidding yourself.
For the past six months, this state-funded centre for asylum seekers has received no funding from the state. Its 25 staff members have not been paid since January. Due to its debts, the centre has “huge problems” with suppliers and the usual food deliveries stopped two weeks ago.
Some of the 225 residents thought the staff had gone on strike over pay but, as director Vasilis Lyritzis explains, they could simply not go on: “We just stopped cooking because we didn’t have anything to cook. The moment that we have food, we cook again.”
…On the island of Leros in the Dodeccanese, the governor of a psychiatric hospital has, in the past two weeks, like Lyritzis, found himself having to plead with suppliers to keep bringing food, despite an almost complete inability to pay them. Yiannis Antartis’s suppliers stopped for a week, after which he found enough money to pay them each €15,000 (£12,000) – enough to encourage them to restart but far from enough to cover the hospital’s total debts to them of €1.25m.
Antartis believes he has about a month to find money to pay the debts and protect the 400 patients, who have a range of mental illnesses, from depression to dementia and schizophrenia. Owed about €13m by its debt-ridden health insurance funds, the hospital, which is already sending samples to private labs for want of sufficient facilities, will soon be struggling for the basics, he said.
“If we don’t receive money within three to five weeks we’re going to have a real problem – for food, for medicines, for hospital supplies, bandages, even the basics,” he says. “All levels of the hospital are going to start breaking down.
“My primary concern is to receive enough money to pay some outstanding bills in order to keep the hospital going, from the insurance funds, from the state, from wherever, just to be able to keep the hospital going. I am really worried about the fact that the hospital will not be able to function normally if we don’t receive payment.”
His position will be met with sympathy by the director of a state hospice in the Kypseli neighbourhood of Athens, who said last week that, as well as medicine shortages and an inability to pay energy bills, the institution had had no meat or chicken since 1 June.
…One place where Greeks have reportedly already stepped in to fill the gap left by the state is Corinth, where the prison has had food shortages and people have started collecting goods for the inmates. Another is Lavrio, where donations have been keeping food on the table for the asylum seekers and refugees, among whom Lyritzis estimates there are 75-80 children.
You don’t think there’s a very realistic chance that this could happen here? Oh, how wrong you are. If we don’t make some significant changes, not only could it happen, it most certainly will happen.