Hundreds of people in need flocked to the social service of Athens Municipality to register for the Social Solidarity Allowance. The expected happened: long queues, tension, anger and a registration system that collapsed.
Some people had gone there already at 5 o’clock in the morning and awaited patiently despite the rain.
Tension was high at some point, when municipality employees started to throw in the air small papers with “priority numbers” and the poor people were trying to grab a number. Apparently there was no machine for the automatic distribution of priority numbers.
According to ANT1 TV reporter, some had deliberate priority numbers written per hand. Other complained that when they managed to reach the counter, employees were not skilled to deal with their issues.
The chaos was caused partly because many of the needy do not have internet access for an online registration, neither a personal accountant to help them through the labyrinth of bureaucracy.
At the same time also those who had managed to register online had to personally go to the social services with a bunch of papers at hand in order to verify their data if there was some kind of difference.
Deputy mayor for Social Policies, Maria Stratigaki, claimed that those waiting in queues were migrants as the ministry has ordered that they do not register at the Centers for Citizens’ Service of the municipalities (KEP) but at the municipalities.
Eligible for the social allowance are low incomers, singles and families that fulfill certain income and assets criteria.
I read somewhere that the eligible have to submit up to 16 different papers to certify their eligibility.
From February 1 until today, the online registration website had more than 2 million visitors. 53,000 people have registration online so far, authorities expect a total of some 700,000 registrations.
The Ministry responsible for the distribution has called the eligible to register according to the end figure of their tax number.
The allowance is to be paid in March.
Those responsible urged the people to come another day. But many remained trying to figure out what’s next.
However, lack of organization, ignorance, hear saying and the usual bureaucracy that can driver someone crazy cannot but create immense anger.
“I hear the allowance will be given tomorrow,. But how will I eat until the allowance is given?” a furious man said swearing at the “f****ng state” and the “f****ing euros”, while people around him shout “So it is, say it!” The man kept shouting “I cannot come here together with 200 other people for 200 f***ing euros, I cannot.”
Another woman said “this is the worst humiliation for 200 euros.”
At noon, the Athens Municipality issued a statement urging the Labor Ministry to temporary suspend registrations until the IT system operates properly and that furthermore all beneficiaries can be served at the KEP as well.