.- Catholic charity Caritas' chapter in Spain has issued a new report showing that poverty, inequality and social injustice are on the rise in the European country.
The findings were presented on Sept. 20 in Madrid by the secretary general of Caritas, Sebastian Mora, and the coordinator of the study team, Francisco Lorenzo.
Caritas says that since the economic crisis began in Spain, the number of people who have received assistance from the agency has risen sharply from 370,251 people in 2007 to 1,015, 267 in 2011 – an increase of almost 174 percent.
The report says the main causes of the increase include growing unemployment, which “drastically” reduces the economic opportunities families have, and cutbacks in entitlement programs.
Between 2007 and 2011, Caritas has seen the biggest increase in requests for food assistance, followed by requests for clothing and house aid. In 2011 the agency spent over $42 million in aid for those in need.
Caritas Spain also provides aid to one-third of illegal immigrants in the country. Half of those who request for aid from the agency are immigrants, and “approximately 130,000 of them are in irregular situations.”
Considering that some studies estimate there are nearly 500,000 illegal immigrants in Spain, Caritas reports that it is providing aid to “one-third of the total.”
Mora said that since a new law went into effect on Sept. 1 denying health care to illegal immigrants, Caritas has seen “a greater presence of persons with this profile asking for health care assistance at parishes.”
He called it a “grave social injustice” that immigrants in Spain have to live in fear. The government did not weigh the measure appropriately,” Mora said, and this has caused “great uncertainty.”