Red Cross launches appeal for Spanish poor

A Red Cross volunteers collect money during the Red Cross Flag Day celebrations in Madrid on October 10, 2012.

The Red Cross is launching its first ever campaign in Spain to raise money to help people in the country worst affected by the economic crisis. A campaign video shows a family with an all but empty fridge receiving a box of groceries from the Red Cross.

The organization already helps around two million people in the country, mostly immigrants, but it's hoping to raise 30 million euro in donations to provide shelter, food or medical assistant to an extra 300,000 people it feels are particularly vulnerable.

The country been hit very hard by the European economic crisis and has the highest rate of unemployment in the EU, with one in four people out of work.

However, many people in Spain may not like to accept the idea and image that Spain is in serious trouble and being put into the same category as a country like Greece, which has been bailed out by the European Union. Politicians insist that Spain is essentially a strong economic country, but the reality may be very different.

Jeremy Hobson: Today the Red Cross is getting involved in the European Debt Crisis. The organization is asking for donations to help the poor in Spain. The BBC's Guy Hedgecoe is with us from Madrid with more.

So give us the details, what exactly is the Red Cross going to do?

Guy Hedgecoe: The Red Cross has launched this campaign to raise 30 million euro because it wants to reach out to an extra 300,000 people in Spain. To give extra coverage whether it's giving them shelter or food or medical help to people it feels are particularly vulnberable socially, and in great parts due to the economic crisis that Spain is suffering. So they want to broaden their coverage - they already help out around 2 million people in Spain - but they want to broaden that to an extra 300,000 people.

Hobson: When we hear in the U.S., that the Red Cross is getting involved in Spain, it does paint an extremely dire picture of the debt crisis and the effect it's having. Is this an accurate depiction of how bad things are?

Hedgecoe: I think you can see two sides to it. Many people in Spain really don't like to accept the idea that Spain is in such serious trouble, that it's a country like for example Greece or these other countries that have been bailed out by the European Union. So they wouldn't accept being put in that kind of category. And certainly the politicians, the country's leaders insist that Spain is essentially a strong economic country.

But if you look at the reality you do see for example a lot more people begging now on the streets than you did two or three years ago. You see a lot more shops and stores and businesses boarded up, even around central Madrid which has always been a real business hub.

Beyond that people just talk about the crisis alot. You feel that people are very worried about it. So while to a certain extent life goes on as normal, Spaniards are very good at enjoying themselves and enjoying life. But they are talking alot about this crisis. It's very much on their minds and it's worrying them a lot. Particularly the labour issue, losing their jobs.


I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...