By Humphrey Carter

THE Majorcan branch of Caritas, the confederation of Catholic relief, development and social service organisations, yesterday said that 18 percent of the Balearic population is being forced to either live on or very close to the poverty line and that figure could rise to 30 percent.

The director of Caritas Majorca, Antoni Vera, yesterday claimed that social welfare in the Balearics is crumbling at an alarming rate because of the economic crisis and that 18 percent of the population can already be described as “poor” by having to live on less than 6'895 euros per year - the poverty line - and the situation is going to get worse. “There is a growing number of people who are being forced to live in extremely volatile and vulnerable economic conditions “and if they don't receive the necessary help, they will disappear below the poverty line.” The Secretary General of Caritas, Margalida M. Riutort, said that the Balearics has not been faced with a situation like this since the “immigration boom” in 2001.

She added that over the past year, Caritas has experienced a 30 percent increase in demand for aid and assistance and the profile of people desperate for help has changed significantly.