Friday, 21 October 2022

Osijek Centre for Missing and Exploited Children Receives Prestigious International Award

October 21, 2022 - The Osijek Centre for Missing and Exploited Children is the winner of the prestigious international award of the "Care About the Children" Foundation of Queen Silvia of Sweden. It thus became the first organisation from Croatia to receive this award, the Centre reported.

As Index writes, and as announced by the Osijek Centre, among more than 130 nominated organisations in Europe that deal with the protection of children from abuse and exploitation, the Expert Court of the Foundation has chosen ten to award the prestigious award to associations whose protection of children's rights is imperative.

The Queen Silvia Foundation in Sweden "Care About the Children" aims to meet the most basic needs of children, based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Osijek Centre points out that the award was presented on October 18, on the European Anti-Trafficking Day, at the Swedish Royal Palace, to prominent organisations for the fight against child trafficking and sexual abuse of children via the Internet.

The award was received from Queen Silvia by the head of the Osijek Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, Tomislav Ramljak, who commended the fact that such a highly positioned institution recognised the work of the Osijek institution, and the award of 10,000 euros, he added, will be an additional incentive for further investments in preventive programs.

Ramljak pointed out that educational institutions, the police, specialised associations, companies, and state bodies must work together to make the Internet a safer place.

"We must do everything in our power so that children feel safe to report any form of violence on the Internet if they experience it. This requires the joint work of the entire society," said Ramljak.

The Osijek Centre for Missing and Exploited Children reminds us that their long-term work resulted in the launch of the National Centre for a Safer Internet and the telephone number 116 000 - the international hotline for missing children in the Republic of Croatia.

Lectures in schools, education for experts, campaigns to raise awareness, and numerous preventive activities are recognised as of great value in the fight to protect children from abuse and exploitation on the Internet; the Osijek Centre points out.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Over 6,800 Ukrainian Children Find Shelter in Croatia

ZAGREB, 1 June 2022 - More than 6,800 children have arrived in Croatia from war-torn Ukraine and 182 are being accommodated in Hotel Zagreb in Duilovo, Split, Labour and Social Policy Minister Marin Piletić said on Wednesday while visiting a group of refugee children located in the hotel.

These are children aged between 8 and 16 and mostly play for the Shakhtar football club or some other Ukrainian clubs whose stay was arranged by a former prominent Croatian football player Dario Srna, it was said during Piletić's visit.

"We thank everyone who is helping these children. We wish these children ther return to their homes as soon as possible but we are also prepared to integrate them into our society," the minister said.

"The government stands with Ukraine, politically, economically and emotionally because we experienced that in the period from 1991 to 1995," he said.

Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Blaženko Boban underscored there are 3,064 Ukrainian refugees located in the county, mostly in tourist facilities and private apartments.

"The tourist season is coming and together in cooperation with the Civil Protection administration we are finding ways to accommodate refugees so that tourism facilities can be put to use during the summer tourist season," said Boban.

UNHCR representative in Croatia, Anna Rich thanked Croatia for establishing a comprehensive legislative approach and for accepting and caring for Ukrainian refugees.

The majority of refugees fleeing from Ukraine are women and children and we call for caution regarding the risk of gender conditioned violence, people trafficking and grave risks to the protection given the profile of the population and unstable situation, said Rich.

She added that the UNHCR supports government efforts including those of the Croatian government to increase preventative measures and protection against exploitation and abuse including raising awareness and providing information to refugees.

Children's ombudsman Helenca Pirnat Dragičević underscored that the Convention on the Rights of the Child commits all countries to protecting children's rights, particularly vulnerable groups like children from Ukraine because of the war.

She added that online access has been arranged for children located in Hotel Zagreb so they can follow school lessons being conducted in Ukraine.

CZ Director Damir Trut informed that so far 18,899 refugees from Ukraine have been registered in Croatia.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Attitudes Regarding COVID Vaccination of Children, Pregnant Women Discouraging

ZAGREB, 26 April 2022 - The results of a survey regarding parents' and pregnant women's  attitude toward vaccination against COVID-19 are discouraging and we may be faced with a new wave of the epidemic in the autumn, Goran Tešović of the Zagreb Infectious Diseases Hospital said on Tuesday.

Presenting the results of the survey on the occasion of European Immunisation Week, Tešović, who is a pediatrician and infectious disease doctor, said that about 20% of parents were willing to have their children immunised against COVID, 45% were hesitant while 35% said they would not vaccinate their children.

The survey was conducted at the end of 2021 and early 2022 in three large Croatian cities - Zagreb, Osijek and Split, and it covered 1,000 parents.

People who have been vaccinated believe their children should be inoculated too, said Tešović. About 30% of those who have been vaccinated support vaccination while only 3% of those who haven't been do.

A survey conducted among 430 pregnant women between May and October 2021 at two health institutions in Zagreb shows that more than 80% would not get vaccinated against COVID and that only 16% would get vaccinated.

"Those results are fairly discouraging and indicate that pregnant women are still in doubt regarding the efficiency and safety of COVID vaccines even though most of them are aware of the dangers of COVID during pregnancy," said Tešović. Even though the virus is perceived as having disappeared, we still have about 100 cases a day and there will most likely be another wave of the epidemic in the autumn, he warned.

An immunology expert, head of the department for viral immunology at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and associate professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Hannover, Luka Čičin-Šain, underscored that the technology to produce vaccines is constantly being developed, their efficiency is increasing and any side-effects are decreasing.

Since the discovery of vaccines, the expected lifespan has increased between 15 and 25 years. Vaccination is the greatest medical achievement of modern civilisation and can prevent more than 20 potentially life-threatening diseases, he underscored.

Prior to the introduction of vaccination, there were more than 10,000 cases of mumps a year in Croatia and after vaccination was introduced, those numbers dropped drastically. After a second dose was introduced, the number practically dropped to zero, said Čičin-Šain. COVID vaccines were developed in record time, they have also changed the dynamics of the pandemic and saved countless lives.

European Immunisation Week is marked across Europe every year in the final week of April. It aims to raise awareness of the importance of immunisation for the general health and wellbeing of the European and wider population.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

Three Children Killed, Seven Committed Suicide in Croatia in 2021

ZAGREB, 9 April 2022 - In Croatia last year, three children were killed, seven committed suicide and 63 attempted suicide, while 17 were killed in traffic, Children's Ombudsman Helenca Pirnat Dragičević said in her annual report, citing data from the Ministry of the Interior.

"Apart from the parents, in certain cases responsibility for children's deaths also lies with the institutions and society in general," the ombudsman said.

She added that social services and the judiciary should be faster and more efficient in decision making concerning children.

In 2021, her office received 269 complaints about violence against or neglect of children, an increase of 30 per cent compared with 2020, and 448 children were subjected to such behaviour. It also received 76 complaints about violations of children's rights as a result of domestic violence.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, 804 sexual crimes against children were reported last year, up from 573 in the previous year.

"Croatia has failed to achieve the sufficient level of protection of children against sexual violence," the ombudsman said, expressing concern about the large number of such cases. She noted that the judiciary's response to reports of sexual crimes against children were often inadequate.

"We are witnessing lengthy proceedings, lenient penalties for the perpetrators and failure to impose security measures," Pirnat Dragičević warned.

Number of institutionalised children on the rise

The ombudsman also drew attention to the increasing number of institutionalised children.

Last year, 806 children without adequate parental care were placed in institutions, compared to 730 in the previous year. This is possibly due to fears among staff at the institutions following several cases in which children were seriously injured or killed in domestic violence.

Last year, 37 institutionalised children were adopted, and another 111 met the criteria for adoption.

The ombudsman said that the possibility of children in foster care being adopted by their foster families should be considered for the children's wellbeing.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Third EU-Funded Play Centre and Toy Library Set Up in Međimurje

ZAGREB, 29 March 2022 - A Play Centre and Toy Library was opened on Tuesday in the Držimurec- Strelec settlement in the municipality of Mala Subotica in Međimurje County, and the project was funded by the European Union.

This is a community where two out of five children do not attend kindergarten programmes and the facility was made possible as part of the UNICEF's programme "Phase III of the Preparatory Action for the EU Child Guarantee."

The EU-funded Child Guarantee is aimed at breaking the cycle of disadvantage.

According to the information available on UNICEF's website, the "Child Guarantee" is an initiative of the European Commission that aims to ensure that the most vulnerable children in the European Union have access to healthcare, education, childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition, ultimately aiming to ensure the progressive realisation of child’s rights in Europe.

The 24-month pilot programme called "Testing the Child Guarantee in the EU Member States," is supposed to contribute to developing the Child Guarantee framework at the EU level as well as showcase innovative approaches and develop national action plans to reduce child poverty and address systemic disadvantages for children in seven member-states: Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania and Spain.

Attending the ceremony, Vesna Šerepec of the Croatian Education Ministry said expressed hope that on her next visit to the centre, she would meet smiling and happy children using these facilities.

The head of UNICEF's office for Croatia, Regina Castillo, said that the centre was not a substitute for a kindergarten but an excellent supplement.

This is the fourth centre of its kind in Croatia, and the third in Međimurje County.

Tuesday, 8 February 2022

€35,000 Device Donated to Split Hospital's Neonatology Ward

ZAGREB, 8 Feb 2022 -  A device for the inhalation of nitric oxide by premature babies was delivered to the neonatology ward in Split by local firefighters on Tuesday.

The device was donated to the hospital after a fund-raising event organised by the firefighters' organisation in the City of Split.

The head of the ward, Mirjana Bucat, sad at today's ceremony that the device would be be useful in the treatment of acute hypoxic pulmonary hypertension from which premature babies could suffer. She said that annually there were five to seven such cases in their hospital.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

MP Says Same-Sex Partners Wishing to be Foster Parents Discriminated Against

ZAGREB, 27 Jan 2022 - A government official on Thursday rejected opposition amendments asking that persons eligible to provide foster care should also include formal and informal life partners, which Domagoj Hajduković (Social Democrats) called discrimination against same-sex partners wishing to be foster parents.

The amendments are rejected, the article which you are asking to be amended is not subject to amendment of the Foster Care Act, Social Welfare Ministry State Secretary Marija Pletikosa said in a comment on amendments put forward by the Green-Left Bloc, the Social Democrats as well as independent MP Furio Radin, who is part of the parliamentary majority and who put forward a proposal to that effect by Hajduković.

"It is our duty as MPs, in line with rulings of the Constitutional Court, to intervene in that legal provision so as to prevent discrimination of some citizens in terms of provision of foster care," they said.

Hajduković admitted that the said article was not subject to legal changes, but noted that it required intervention because "there is evident discrimination against citizens who want to be foster parents and are possibly same-sex life partners."

We are indirectly telling those people not to apply to provide foster care while children's homes are full of children, this is discrimination against a part of the population as well as against children who need foster care, Hajduković said.

No reason why ideological tenets should be more important than children's welfare

Hajduković was supported by MP Urša Raukar Gamulin (Green-Left Bloc), who said that "a large number of children are waiting for foster care, there are not enough foster parents, and there is no reason whatsoever why some ideological tenets should be more important to us than children's welfare".

Raukar Gamulin warned that the law "allows a child abuser to be a foster parent" while same-sex partners are not desirable. That's is truly a disgrace, she said.

Government representative Pletikosa also rejected a proposal by the Social Democratic Party that the parliament obliges the government to send it within 30 days, in line with a Constitutional Court ruling, changes to the Foster Care Act in such a way to enable same-sex partners and formal and informal life partners to equally participate in all aspects of social life, including foster care.

Const. Court didn't order that law be amended, competent bodies should interpret it

"The Constitutional Court did not order amendment of the Foster Care Act but determined that competent bodies have the duty to interpret it and apply its provisions in such a way that will enable all persons, under equal conditions, to participate in the provision of foster care, independent of whether a potential foster parent lives in a life or informal life partnership," said Pletikosa.

"You are lying!" said SDP MP Sabina Glasovac, noting that the Court "only said that at that moment, suspension of three articles of the law would result in a legal vacuum that would have a negative impact on the beneficiaries."

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Two Play Centres, Toy Libraries to Be Opened in Međimurje

ZAGREB, 24 Jan 2022 - Two new play centres and toy libraries for children from disadvantaged families will be opened in the northern Međimurje region in February, and the project, financed with EU money, is adapted to Roma children and families.

UNICEF and 11 partners are implementing a pilot project as part of "Phase III – Testing the Child Guarantee in the EU Member States", a programme aimed at enabling children to access basic services such as health care, education, nutritious food, quality housing conditions and childcare.

It focuses primarily on children with disabilities, children from disadvantaged families and children - members of ethnic minorities.

The project is being implemented in seven Međimurje communities, where, as many as 40% of children aged 3-6 are not included in pre-school education.

Intervention focuses on three areas - services of child protection and family support, early intervention services, and access to pre-school education.

In addition to an existing play centre, the new play centres to be opened will be places for informal child education and learning through play. The play centres and toy libraries will cover more than 450 children, they will employ three education experts, plus three Roma assistants to help adapt activities to Roma ethnic minority families.

The project also includes three carefully designed training courses for 55 kindergarten teachers.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

German Couple Arrested in Poreč; Left Two Children in Locked Car

August 1, 2021 - A German couple was arrested, the Croatian police reported, after they left two small children and a dog locked in a car in a parking lot for over an hour.

The passers-by reported to the police around 7:30 pm that the children and the dog were in a hot, locked car (German licence plates) with fully closed windows for way too long. The car with the three sufferers inside was at a supermarket parking lot. Just as the police were approaching, the 28-year-old woman unlocked the car. The children were taken to the hospital in Pula, because of the obvious symptoms of serious heat exhaustion. The dog was taken to a local vet, to be treated for the same condition, Croatian Radiotelevision reports.

The police have concluded that the German citizens, a man and a woman, both 28 years old, have committed the felony of endangering the children's rights, as well as the felony of endangering animals. They were arrested last night and spent the night in jail. The local social services were notified and looked after the children, while the dog continues to be in the care of the veterinary clinic. It remains to be seen what the legal consequences for the couple will be.

Please, never leave your children (and/or pets) in locked vehicles for any amount of time in such heat. It was over 30°C yesterday in Poreč, and it was pure luck that the children and the dog made it out alive and seemingly without any permanent consequences.

For more news from Croatia, follow our "News" section.


Tuesday, 8 June 2021

MEP Biljana Borzan: Ban on Sale of Energy Drinks to Children Should Have Been Adopted in 2018

ZAGREB, 8 June, 2021 - Biljana Borzan, one of Croatia's members of the European Parliament, said on Tuesday that a motion by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to ban the sale of energy drinks to children should have been supported in 2018 because the recent death of a 13-year-old youth in Zagreb might have been avoided.

MEP Borzan, who put forward a bill to ban the sale of energy drinks to children, told a press conference that this is an exceptionally important topic, however, the ideas and proposals by the opposition were ignored at the time.

"Had our proposal to ban the sale of energy drinks to children three years ago been adopted in the Sabor, perhaps this tragedy would not have occurred. I am nauseated to be here today as a mother and a doctor," she said, expressing her condolences to the family of the deceased youth.

She added that this was the first case of death of a child connected to the consumption of an energy drink and warned that if nothing was done, it would not be the last. "There is a considerable number of cases like this one in the world. Consumption of energy drinks by children is problematic for more than one reason," said Borzan.

By consuming energy drinks, children consume large quantities of sugar, which negatively impacts obesity statistics in Croatia. The second problem is the consumption of caffeine, taurine and other problematic and suspect substances while the third problem is that children's taste changes with such extremely sweet beverages so all other food becomes insufficiently sweet for them, Borzan said. The fourth problem is that the consumption of energy drinks in combination with alcohol is becoming more and more popular among teenagers, she added.

High blood pressure, heart attack, arrhythmia, headache, nausea, vomiting, cramping, panic attacks, anxiety, stress, diabetes, addiction, allergies, insomnia, risky behaviour, are just some of the repercussions of excessive consumption of energy drinks, she explained.

She recalled that in 2018, the SDP had proposed a bill to ban the sale of energy drinks to children under the age of 18, which was rejected by the ruling majority, which initially said that the EU did not allow this, said Borzan.

That is not true as some Baltic countries have such a law in force while retail chains in some EU countries have imposed such a ban on their own, Borzan said.

The government then said that it would introduce an additional tax in an effort to deal with that problem, which it did, Borzan said, noting that a ban would be far more effective and just as it would refer only to children.

Citing data from the European Food Safety Authority, Borzan said that the situation in Croatia was concerning as 86% of 16-year-olds consume energy drinks and 47% of them combine them with alcohol.

Sixty percent of children under the age of 12 who regularly consume energy drinks said they did so because they liked the taste, Borzan said, noting that it was bizarre that 40% of them said they consumed them because they lacked energy.

In addition to a ban, it is important to educate the public so parents don't buy these drinks for their children, she said.

Referring to an announcement by the government that it plans to establish an inquiry commission for this problem, Borzan said that this was a tardy response and warned that inquiry commissions had not resulted in positive changes in the past.

For more about health in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Page 1 of 4