A report by Catholic aid agency Caritas Europa, has warned that poverty in Europe is on the increase and urges steps to protect weak and vulnerable social groups. "The collapse of the Soviet Union has resulted in the emergence of over 150 million 'new poor' and prompted a redrawing of the development map," said the report. The facts "cannot reveal the depth of human pain and misery experienced by millions of people living on islands of poverty - as pensioners, homeless persons, long-term unemployed, lone parents - amidst a sea of plenty." Caritas Europe is one of seven regional arms of Caritas Internationalis, an umbrella Catholic aid organization that represents relief and development agencies in more than 190 countries. The report includes detailed analysis of the situation in 43 European countries, focussing on six segments of the population: the unemployed; the working poor; single parents and large families; the elderly; asylum seekers and migrants; and minorities. Statistical data in the study reveals a large income gap between men and women and also brings to light the impact discrimination, marginalisation and social exclusion have on society. This picture has been provided by Caritas Europa member organisations, based on their work on the ground with the poorest and most needy. Patterns and trends that emerge from the hard facts highlight the disparities that exist across borders and within specific countries. The report concludes with major policy recommendations, which Caritas Europa and its members will present to the authorities of the European Union, its fifteen member states and other European countries. The recommendations cover the following issues: employment, access to work, training; family policy; Policies for the elderly, including home care and pensions, especially in Central and Eastern Europe; solidarity of the European union with its eastern neighbours, structural funds and economic exchanges To read the whole report visit: www.caritas.org/en/news/cs/poverty.html
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