ON THE BRINK: Greece Close to Collapse, Food and Medicine Running Short

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Greece is on the brink of ruin as food and medicine run short and banks struggle to stay afloat.

Banks claimed they had €1bn of cash left to see them through the weekend, just €90 per head, and need immediate help from the European Central Bank.

Meanwhile, capital controls have led to staple foods, such as sugar and flour, to run short while pharmacies report they are fast running out of essential drugs.

Mary Papadopoulou, who runs a pharmacy in Plaka, told The Guardian that she had already run out of thyroid drug and would soon be out of others: “We have shortages. We’ve run out of thyroxine and unless things change dramatically we’ll be having a lot more shortages next week.”

The majority of Greece’s food supplies are imported, but the government’s ban on bank transfers means companies cannot pay their suppliers.

Vasilis Korkidis of the Confederation of Hellenic Commerce said: “Imports, exports, factories, firms, transport – everything is frozen. The only sectors in demand are food and fuel.” He added that the economy had lost €1.2bn in the past week alone.

“Even in the best-case scenario, it is going to take months to recover from the shock of closed banks and capital controls. Now that they are in place, capital controls may last for a year.”

Tourist bookings are also down by 40 per cent, while an estimated 50,000 holidaymakers are cancelling visits to the country every day in a severe blow to one of the country’s biggest industries.

Greece defaulted in its €1.6bn debt payment to the IMF earlier this week, risking the biggest sovereign bankruptcy in history.

Tomorrow it will go to the polls in referendum to decide whether to adhere to the demands of the IMF, European Union and European Central Bank. The country’s radical Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, has urged the Greek people to vote ‘no’ in the hope it will force the country’s creditors to rethink their terms.

Addressing the nation, Tsipras said: “[Our creditors’] proposals, which clearly violate the European rules and the basic rights to work, equality and dignity show that the purpose of some of the partners and institutions was not a viable agreement for all parties, but possibly the humiliation of an entire people.

“But I personally pledge that I will respect the result of your democratic choice, whatever that may be.”

However, polls predict a close result and if banks do run out of money before the weekend it will likely lead people to vote ‘yes’ to end the misery. Tsipras has said he will resign if Greeks agree to the terms.


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