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Portugal: poverty in decline, but Caritas calls for national debate on unequal “redistribution of wealth generated”

Poverty figures are in decline in Portugal, which is “good news” for the associations committed to tackling it. “This is certainly due to an improvement in the overall situation and to the strengthening of social protection measures”, said Henrique Joaquim, director general of “Comunidade Vida e Paz”, commenting on the national data that show a decrease in the risk of poverty from 20.4% in 2003 to 17.3% in 2017 (i.e. 500,000 people raised from poverty). For Joaquim, however, it is still “very disturbing” to see that “nearly 20% of young people are at risk of poverty”. Joaquim also remarked: “Highlighting a positive trend cannot result in us slowing down our fight against the phenomenon; rather, it should make our strategies more adapted to real-life situations”, for example by making room for “local and flexible solutions, focused on people”. Through the Bishops’ agency “Ecclesia”, the President of Caritas, Eugénio Fonseca, pointed the finger at the minimum wage of €460 per month: “It should be revised – he said -, because we all know that it is insufficient”. And he added: “more and more working poor are turning to Caritas for help”. Finally, the President of Caritas called for a “national debate on poverty” since there is a need to address the crux of the problem: the “poor redistribution of wealth generated”.

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