Children are being abandoned on Greece’s streets by their poverty-stricken families who cannot afford to look after them any more.
Youngsters are being dumped by their parents who are struggling to make ends meet in what is fast becoming the most tragic human consequence of the Euro crisis.
It comes as pharmacists revealed the country had almost run out of aspirin, as multi-billion euro austerity measures filter their way through society.
Athens’ Ark of the World youth centre said four children, including a newborn baby, had been left on its doorstep in recent months.
One mother, it said, ran away after handing over her two-year-old daughter Natasha.
Four-year-old Anna was found by a teacher clutching a note that read: ‘I will not be coming to pick up Anna today because I cannot afford to look after her. Please take good care of her. Sorry.’
And another desperate mother, Maria, was forced to give up her eight-year-old daughter Anastasia after losing her job.
She looked for work for more than a year, having to leave her child at home for hours at a time, and lived off food handouts from the local church.
She said: ‘Every night I cry alone at home, but what can I do? It hurt my heart, but I didn’t have a choice.’ She now works in a cafe but only make £16 per day and so cannot afford to take her daughter back.
Centre founder Fr Antonios Papanikolaou told the Mirror: ‘Over the last year we’ve had hundreds of parents who want to leave their children with us. They know us and trust us.
‘They say they do not have any money or shelter or food for their kids, so they hope we might be able to provide them with what they need.’
Further evidence of Greeks feeling the pinch of austerity measures is the lack of aspirin and other medicines now available in the country.
Pharmacists are struggling to stock their shelves as the Greek government, which sets the prices for drugs, keeps them artificially low.
This means that firms are turning to sell the drugs outside of the country for a higher price – leading to stock depletion for Greeks.
Mina Mavrou, who runs one of the country’s 12,000 pharmacies, said she spent hours each day pleading with drug makers, wholesalers and colleagues to hunt down medicines for clients.
And she said that even when drugs were available, pharmacists often must foot the bill up front, or patients simply do without.
Meanwhile, talks about private sector creditors paying for part of a second Greek bailout are going badly, senior European bankers said tonight.
That raises the prospect that euro zone governments will have to increase their contribution to the aid package.
‘Governments are mulling an increase of their share of the burden,’ said one banker, while another said ‘Nothing is decided yet, but the bigger the imposed haircut the less appetite there is for voluntary conversion.’
A third senior banker told Associated Press: ‘Private sector involvement is going badly.’
There are suggestions in euro zone government circles that ministers are coming to the realisation they may need to bolster Greece’s planned second bailout worth 130 billion euros if the voluntary bond swap scheme, which is a key part of the overall package, falls short of expectations.
Stumping up yet more money would be politically difficult in Germany and other countries in the northern part of the currency bloc.