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Greeks abroad: Helping family back home

By Staff Writer
Following the referendum on Sunday where the ‘No’ voters won, Greece is still nowhere near turning its financial affairs around. The country hit hard times following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and has had to deal with stringent austerity measures after accepting bailouts.
 
Last week, Greek banks shut their doors and a limit of €60 (about R820) on ATM withdrawals was imposed on both locals and tourists. However, some that live abroad are offering financial support to Greek based family members.
 
A recent report highlighted that Greeks living in Australia and the United States are purchasing food and other grocery items online via the Carrefour website to be delivered to their family members in Greece.
 
Carrefour is a Greek online food service, where customers can order groceries online and have them delivered to their door. Those based abroad are able to transact online using their credit cards as payment.
 
However, there is some uncertainty about whether Carrefour, which is operated, by Caremarket will keep its doors open for business for international customers.  There’s also concern about the Greek government itself putting an end to locals getting food sent to them by their international friends and relatives.
 
If the government or companies put a block on people overseas ordering food to be delivered within Greece (such as the block on money transfers into Greece), families are worried that they will not be able to provide their families with much needed support.
 
Money transfers halted
 
Buying groceries online, is one of the few ways in which families and friends located abroad are able to help. Money transfers out of Greece have been halted with the closure of the banks, as have some transfers into the country.
 
Western Union has stopped money transfers into Greece. “Due to restrictions imposed across the financial sector by the government, our services are not available at this time,” it said.  
 
The banks remain closed following the referendum, with ATM withdrawals still limited to €60   per day. Reports suggest that with no new bailout agreed to, the banks could soon run out of money, leaving residents in Greece in an even worse financial position.
 
With the current financial situation in Greece people, particularly pensioners and those that have been retrenched, are struggling to make ends meet. One in four people are currently unemployed, with the Greek economy contracting by 25% since the financial crisis hit in 2008.
 
Tourists affected
 
It is not only tourists travelling to Greece who are being affected by this crisis, but also Greeks who are travelling abroad.
 
When the banks closed last week and limits were placed on cash withdrawals, a young couple celebrating their honeymoon in New York, were left without cash after their bank cards were declined.
 
Luckily their return flights and hotel booking had all been paid in advance. But the unfortunate couple was left without money to pay for food or any other expenses that they were faced with. They were forced to survive off of donations from the Greek Orthodox Church and others to sustain them until their return flight this past Saturday. However, the couple insist on paying back the money once they have access to their funds again.
 
Tourists travelling to Greece, have been encouraged to take up to five days’ worth of spending money in cash (Euros), and not rely solely on using credit cards or withdrawing cash at ATMs.

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