Red Cross Red Crescent warns of the ‘quiet desperation’ of millions affected by European financial crisis

Published: 30 January 2013

Geneva 30/01/2013 - With Europe still in the grip of economic recession, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is today warning of the ‘quiet desperation’ of the millions affected by unemployment, rising poverty, homelessness and general uncertainty about their futures.

According to latest EU statistics, over 26 million people are currently out of work across the EU-27*, and many more across the rest of Europe and in Central Asia. Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations (known as National Societies) are reporting an increase in the number of people approaching them for help and support. In 2012, the Spanish Red Cross supported over 1.2 million people directly affected by the economic crisis and this year will expand its social care activities to a further 300,000 people living in conditions of extreme vulnerability. In Greece – where unemployment has now reached 26 per cent – the Hellenic Red Cross has seen an increase in those needing financial aid, food assistance and psychosocial support. A number of Red Crescent societies in Central Asia are also assisting citizens who are returning from dwindling work opportunities abroad to unemployment at home.

Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies all over Europe are trying to respond to the increased numbers of people in need, ” said Anitta Underlin, Director of the Europe Zone of the IFRC. “However it is important to remember that this crisis is not only creating problems for the ‘new poor’, the middle-class losing jobs and benefits, but also exacerbating the already serious situations of vulnerable people,” she added.  

A lot of focus has rightly been on the ‘new poor’ in wealthier countries, were the social security systems are trying to cope, and this is an important aspect of the crisis. But we should remember the existing poor, vulnerable and new poor in countries where there is no social security at all.”

Over the past five years, National Societies have responded to the crisis, but have also faced the dilemma of increased needs and shrinking funds. The IFRC has just begun more detailed research into the social and humanitarian impact of the crisis in Europe. 

We know that when half of young people in a country cannot find a job, it has serious consequences; not only financially but also personally. Some may lose their self-confidence, their faith in the future, and the quiet desperation may become more vocal with increased tension and xenophobia. The survey, which we have just launched, will also help us to find if we can do more and if we need to adjust our programmes,” said Anitta Underlin. 

For further information please contact:

Lasse Norgaard.  Communication Manager IFRC, Europe Zone

+36 709 53 77 04


Giovanni Zambello IFRC Communications delegate, Europe Zone

Mob. +36 70 953 7709


Jessica Sallabank. IFRC Media Relations, Geneva

Mob +41 799481148.


** Eurostat, statistical office of the European Union