Caritas volunteers at the border between Poland and Ukraine  (ANSA)

By Edoardo Giribaldi

Dec 23 2022

“Single parents, migrants and refugees are the most affected by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis,” affirms Maria Nyman, Secretary General of the Catholic relief organization, analysing the findings of a just-released survey scanning 18 European countries.

Caritas Europa warns the current cost-of-living crisis in Europe has severe consequences on vulnerable citizens, especially single parents, pensioners, young people and refugees, who are bearing the brunt of soaring inflation and energy costs.

In collaboration with Eurodiaconia, Caritas Europa published a new survey revealing the significant impact of the current cost-of-living crisis on people’s capacity to cover basic needs.

The research reported the most significant increases in people seeking support from Caritas France, Caritas Finland, and Stockholm City Mission. In Switzerland, the report highlighted how half of the additional 40% of beneficiaries are those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Challenges over challenges

According to Maria Nyman, Secretary General of Caritas Europa, “Single parents, people with a migrant background and refugees” are the groups that have suffered the harshest consequences of the actual crisis.

“Generally, these people were already living in situations of poverty, and now they are facing challenges added to challenges.”

Inflation and prices increase

Specifically, more than 90% of the single parents respondents have declared to have faced situations of poverty due to the rising prices in their countries. Another category deeply affected was older people, with 75% of the interviewees dealing with economic difficulties.

“Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in the number of people reaching out to organizations such as Caritas,” Ms. Nyman explained. With inflation, and the consequent prices increase, the number of people in need has increased even more.

“People face challenges in covering the most basic needs: buying food, paying rent, and heating their homes.”

Food, counseling and shelters

More in detail, the survey underlines how more than 80% of the respondents are facing issues heating their houses. “With the upcoming winter, this represents the beginning of the challenges,” Ms. Nyman affirmed. “This is the beginning of something whose consequences we might see even more in the months ahead.

Speaking about the interventions brought up by Caritas and Eurodiaconia, the Secretary General pointed to three contexts in which the organizations mainly operate: “providing more food, more counseling services, and shelters.”

Structural causes

On the other hand, “we are also trying to address structural causes so that we can ensure that also politics is responding and playing its part addressing some of these issues,” Ms. Nyman pointed out.

“With the increasing requests to our organizations, we also need to have the opportunity to scale up.”

Governments and institutions

Investing in social services is seen as an essential factor to “bridge the gap between the government and the challenges the people are facing right now, Ms. Nyman claimed.

Institutions, in this context, have a double valence, firstly “with direct support,” and secondly, “ensuring that organizations such as Caritas are also receiving the support to fulfill their essential role.”

“Essential services should be available, accessible and affordable, to ensure that the basic needs are filled.”

“We believe that these social needs can also be covered through funding,” concluded Ms. Nyman, naming some of them, such as the European Social Fund, or the Recovery and Resilience Facility: “Every person has the right to live in dignity and receive the support they need.” – Vatican News