Red Cross to make Spain appeal as economic crisis bites

People line up outside the Ave Maria charity food centre in Madrid, November 2011 More and more Spaniards rely on food hand-outs

The Red Cross is to make its first ever public appeal in Spain to help those affected by the economic crisis.

It will ask Spanish people to donate money to help 300,000 of the most vulnerable people.

Before the crisis, it mainly helped immigrants but, with one in four adults out of work, more and more Spanish families rely on food hand-outs.

A campaign video shows a family with an all but empty fridge receiving a box of groceries from the Red Cross.

Analysis

The 10th of October is always Little Flag Day in Spain, when people wear a small white badge with a red cross and volunteers, and those working for the Red Cross collect money from people on the streets of Spanish cities.

The Spanish Red Cross says this is the first time they have launched a domestic appeal to raise money for Spanish families.

The 300,000 people the Red Cross wants to help represent a very small minority, who are living in difficult conditions as a result of the economic crisis.

However this is one of Spain's most recognised charities, known in the past for public appeals for disaster-hit or poverty-stricken countries abroad. And a campaign in Spain, to help Spanish people, is symbolic and will draw attention to the often invisible, social impact of the economic crisis.

On Wednesday, the organisation will announce its Dia de la Banderita (Little Flag Day) appeal in 30 of the country's provinces, El Pais newspaper reports.

The video shows a Spanish family - a father, son and daughter - sharing an omelette made from a single egg. Their mood lifts when the Red Cross box arrives.

The Spanish Red Cross is one of the country's most-recognised charities, previously best known for making public appeals for disaster-hit and poverty-stricken countries, the BBC's Madrid correspondent Tom Burridge reports.

It is warning of rising levels of inequality, which could lead to social unrest.

On Monday, the IMF forecast that Spain would miss its deficit targets in 2012 and 2013 due to a much bigger economic contraction than forecast by the Spanish government.

It predicted the economy would contract by 1.3% next year, compared to a government forecast of 0.5%.

It estimated that Spain's deficit would reach 7% of GDP in 2012 and 5.7% in 2013, compared with EU-agreed targets of 6.3% and 4.5%, respectively.

The country has the highest unemployment rate - 24.3% - in the EU, while 51.5% of young people are out of work.

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