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CHARITY

Germans still giving despite recession

The financial crisis has not affected Germany's charitable spirit, leading aid organisations reported Thursday. UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders and Caritas International are all expecting this year's private donations to be at least on a par with 2008.

Germans still giving despite recession
Photo: DPA

A survey carried out by news agency DDP found that Germans have not given any less to charity in 2009, despite a tough economy. The United Nations children’s aid organisation UNICEF is expecting a similar level of donations to last year, according to the spokesman of its German branch Rudi Tarneden. “We’re not seeing a direct effect of the financial crisis,” he said.

UNICEF made €52 million from donations in 2008, plus another €16.4 million from the sale of greetings cards. Tarneden says that around 30 to 40 percent of Germans give to charity, and this proportion has not changed in the current year.

Doctors Without Borders spokeswoman Claudia Evers said the humanitarian-aid organisation was even expecting to exceed the €44 million that was donated in 2008.

Rainer Lang, spokesman for the Protestant charity Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) agreed: “It’s a very positive signal for us as a Christian relief organisation that we can record an increase despite the financial crisis.” Lang said Brot für die Welt had received €1 million more by the end of November than it had in the first eleven months of 2008.

Spokeswoman for Catholic aid organisation Caritas International Christine Decker also said they were also expecting donations to stay at the same level as last year, but only after subtracting donations for the 2008 earthquake in China. There had not been any comparably “media-effective” disasters this year, Decker said.

But Simone Pott of the German aid organisation Welthungerhilfe (World Hunger Help) disagreed with her peers. Pott said that 2008 had been a particularly strong year for donations, and her charity was unlikely to exceed the €37.1 million it received then.

“The economic crisis arrived in 2009,” Pott explained. Donations from businesses had declined particularly, she said, predicting that Welthungerhilfe would finish 2009 with between €32 million and €34 million in donations.

Dawid D. Bartelt of human rights organisation Amnesty International told a similar story, saying that in comparison with the “very high” level achieved in 2008, this year would see a small decline. But Bartelt added that this had been expected and was not causing the organisation special concern.

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CHILDREN

REVEALED: German children less satisfied with life than those in other countries

German children are less happy with life than than their counterparts in neighbouring countries, a new study on the well-being of youngsters has found.

REVEALED: German children less satisfied with life than those in other countries
Photo: DPA

The report by UNICEF’s Office of Research Innocenti, urges governments to improve and protect child well-being in the face of the economic, social and educational fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Many of the world’s richest countries – which have the resources they need to provide good childhoods for all – are failing children,” said Gunilla Olsson, director of the research office, which is located in Florence, Italy. 

According to the representative survey published on Thursday, 75 percent of girls and boys in Germany say they are very satisfied with their lives. However, in the Netherlands that number is 90 percent, in Switzerland it's 82 percent and in France 80 percent of kids are happy.

The lowest value was in Turkey where just 53 percent of children said they had high life satisfaction, followed by Japan (62 percent) and the UK (64 percent).

READ ALSO: 'Nearly three million' children in Germany live in poverty

Rudi Tarneden, spokesperson for Unicef Germany in Cologne said 75 percent was a “good figure” on the surface, but he added: “You can also turn it around and say: one in four children is not very satisfied. And that is not so good by international comparison.”

He said the fact that parents of many German children are more driven by worry and fear than in other countries certainly played a role. “If the adults don't convey much confidence, this is reflected in the children's attitudes,” he said.

The survey also found in Germany only 72 percent of girls and boys say it's easy for them to make friends. At the other end of the scale, 83 percent of children in Romania feel it's easy to make friends.

READ ALSO: Germany to start paying out €300 Kinderbonus

Charity bosses say greater emphasis must be placed on promoting social skills in schools. In addition to Estonia and Poland, Germany also has the highest number of adolescents who think they are too fat or too thin.

Despite a long phase of economic boom, child poverty in Germany has remained relatively constant, said Tarneden.

Germany in 14th place when it comes to well-being

The study compared the well-being of children in 41 OECD and EU countries. The focus was on mental and physical health as well as social skills.

In the overall assessment, the study rated the well-being of children best in the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and Finland. Germany snagged the 14th spot. The worst performers were Chile, Bulgaria and the United States.


Screenshot of top 20 countries. Source: Unicef

“Prosperity does not automatically mean that all children develop well,” said Tarneden. “What we have in western industrial societies is a diversity of childhood situations.

“The perfect family portrayed in TV adverts is an illusion. Far too many children are left behind, even in our country.”

Coronavirus crisis has impact on children

According to UNICEF, the burden of the coronavirus pandemic is huge, with long school closures having a major impact on the mental and physical health of many children.

“It is clear to everyone that children who have a stable home and are encouraged and supported there will come out of the crisis better than those who sit alone in a high-rise housing estate during the day, and distract themselves with games on the PC or cell phone,” said Tarneden.

READ ALSO: How can Germany improve its Kitas amid teacher shortage

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