Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New poverty report for Israel finds increase in assistance requests

The Israeli charity Latet has released it's annual Alternative Poverty Report for 2009. The report surveys over 100 food charities in Israel and questions families about their living conditions.

This year's report finds that there has been a 15 percent increase in families seeking assistance for food. 6 percent of poor Israeli children have stolen food in the past year, and a quarter of those children have been put into the work force to help the family.

From the Jerusalem Post, writer Ruth Eglash attended a press conference that unveiled the report.

"For many people the economic crisis is just starting," commented Latet Director Eran Weintraub on Tuesday following a press conference about the report, which for the past seven years has acted as a more personal approach to poverty than the statistical perspective provided by National Insurance Institute's annual poverty report released last month.

"We are expecting that many more people in 2010 will join the already tens of thousands of individuals trapped in the cycle of poverty," said Weintraub, adding that non-profits such as Latet are growing increasing concerned that they will not be able to cope with the rise.

Among the findings of the report, the organization noted a growth of 10% in the number of people that lost their jobs over the past year due to the economic crisis, with 25% saying they were not optimistic about finding work in the near future.

While the situation grew more difficult for adults, the report highlighted the worsening conditions for the country's children. Aside from the 6% of children admitting to stealing food, 20% of needy families reported that their children had become involved in violent activities due to the tough financial situation. In addition, 34% said they were fearful their children would eventually become involved in crime or start taking drugs because of the economic hardships their families faced.

Further, an overwhelming 62% of families said they could not provide their children with suitable food staples, while 45% claimed their young were not receiving even one hot meal a day, including at school or in after-school programs.

The report also found that the situation for 44% of those currently receiving food aid had significantly worsened over the past year, with 63% reporting they were unable to purchase medical treatment or supplies due to the their financial situation.

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