Thursday, 21 January 2021

Croatian Catholic Mission in Berlin Raises €500,000 for Earthquake Relief

ZAGREB, 21 January 2021 - The Croatian Catholic Mission (HKM) in Berlin has collected close to half a million euro in earthquake relief for the Banovina region.

During the mission's fund-raiser for earthquake relief for Petrinja, Sisak and Glina, €427,000 was collected, of which €315,000 was paid via PayPal, €93,605 was paid into the mission's bank account and €18,500 was collected in cash, the Mission said.

This does not include a donation of 10 container homes valued at around €30,000 and 1,000 family packages with essential commodities valued at about €35,000.

"We are currently obtaining hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers..." the mission said, adding that the funds collected would not be used for that purpose except possibly for transport costs if that was not resolved in some other way.

"Now, fast and quality aid for the most vulnerable follows. We will have information about all end-users and if necessary, we will publish information on each centre," HKM said on its web site.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Medved: 646 Containers, Mobile Homes for Quake Victims Set Up So Far

ZAGREB, 21 January 2021 - The head of the task force for the reconstruction of earthquake-hit areas, Deputy Prime Minister Tomo Medved, said on Thursday they had set up 646 containers and mobile homes for the victims, including 60 on Wednesday.

Local civil protection authorities have forwarded 2,230 requests for the temporary accommodation of people who lost their homes, including 880 that are a priority.

Forty-nine families have been temporarily accommodated in state-owned flats, that is 124 persons whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the 29 December magnitude 6.2 tremor.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Medved said that by adopting a conclusion to write off energy bills and the public broadcaster's licence fee for households in Sisak-Moslavina County and Pokupsko and Kravarsko municipalities in Zagreb County, the government was showing social responsibility towards the people affected by the disaster.

We are confident that measure will help at least in part in these days, he added.

All the branches of the civil protection and homeland security system are doing their job, Medved said, singling out firefighters for responding to 337 calls to remove damaged chimneys, repair roods and secure damaged buildings, among other things.

Since Monday, 49 tonnes of food, 21,000 litres of water and 20,000 hot meals have been distributed, and 451 services of psychosocial support have been provided.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Earthquake Donations in Action: Croatian Entrepreneurs (UGP) Fund Report, January 20

January 21, 2021 - Transparent donations getting to the people who need them most are essential in emergency response. TCN follows the Voice of Entrepreneurs Glas Poduzetnika (UGP) fund to report on the realities on the ground.

The donations are pouring in from all over the world to help the victims of the earthquakes in Petrinja, Glina and Sisak, donations which have been gratefully received and which are making a difference. 


As I wrote previously, many people have contacted us at TCN asking for advice on the best place to send money. We published a list a few days ago, but I was really happy to see one more fund set up a couple of ago, from Udruga Glas Poduzetnika, or Voice of Entrepreneurs, which is a growing force for reform and change in Croatia. Run by people who want to see an end to corruption and needless red tape, I was sure that their efforts to help their fellow citizens in crisis would be transparent, dynamic, focused and effective, with all money donated going to the people who needed it most. And so it proved, which is why I am now directing anyone looking for a place to donate to UGP, as I explained a few days ago.


UGP co-founder Drazen Orescanin was kind enough to give me an in-depth interview yesterday on the focus, plans and activities of the UGP fund, and it was great to hear that 100% of the money donated will go to help those who need it most.

In order to provide more transparent donation information, we agreed to publish a daily report of the fund's activities, finances and purchases. As resources and time allow, this will be a daily feature, and you can track progress here.


Daily activities

The house of family Velić was very damaged and they are waiting for repairs. Also, the house of Nikica Krnjajić and his family was destroyed in the earthquake and is temporarily uninhabitable. Thanks to generous donations, these two families can sleep safely from today. Families thank all of the donors for help!

What's next?

This week we are planning to deliver several more housing containers. That means that we have fulfilled our promise to buy and deliver 20 housing containers. We are continuing to help people in any way we can. Also, we are hoping that soon we will start to make progress regarding UGP house.

Information in English for donations, both for donations from Croatia and abroad

For the latest news on UGP, follow the dedicated TCN section

For the latest information on the earthquake emergency, follow the dedicated TCN section

Thursday, 21 January 2021

EP Calls for Assistance to Croatia in Dealing with Earthquake Aftermath

ZAGREB, 21 January 2021 - Members of the European Parliament on Thursday called on the European Commission to use all instruments available to help Croatia repair the damage caused by a string of quakes that hit the country last year and revitalise the affected areas that were neglected even before the disaster.

At a plenary session, MEPs discussed a motion for a resolution to mitigate the consequences of the earthquakes in Croatia, which is expected to be adopted unanimously in the afternoon.

The motion was initiated by Croatian MEP Valter Flego, with all Croatian MEPs taking part in drafting it.

Last year Croatia was struck by two strong earthquakes that were followed by a number of aftershocks. On 22 March, a 5.5 earthquake shook Zagreb and two adjacent counties, killing a 12-year-old girl and damaging over 26,000 buildings. On 29 December, a 6.2 earthquake struck Sisak-Moslavina County, killing seven people and demolishing over 30,000 buildings.

"Today MEPs from the left to the right of the political spectrum underlined the importance of EU membership and solidarity Croatia can count on," said Dubravka Šuica, who took part in the discussion on behalf of the Commission.

She said that aid to the affected areas concerned her portfolio as well, which is demography, because those areas had witnessed a continued demographic decline even before the quakes.

"That is why it is important to renew the economy and infrastructure simultaneously with housing reconstruction so that people can stay in that area," Šuica said, adding that during the reconstruction process account should also be taken of the digital and green transition in accordance with the EU's priorities in the next budget period. 

MEP Flego said that the resolution was very important because it required the Commission to do all it could to help Croatia, relying on the Solidarity Fund, the seven-year budget and the Civil Protection Mechanism.

"Croatia needs assistance right now, with as little bureaucracy and as much solidarity as possible," Flego said, adding that he was glad that the other Croatian MEPs had joined this initiative to pass a resolution.

Karlo Ressler said: "This is a universal message of solidarity and hope to everyone in Croatia, to the earthquake victims, Croatian authorities, Croatian military, volunteers, to all those providing assistance on an ongoing basis." He also highlighted the need to renew the economy and people's livelihoods in the affected areas along with housing reconstruction.

Željana Zovko said that the Banovina region should be assisted in the same way as Zagreb, suggesting the use of new instruments being proposed by the Commission, such as the development of new environmentally-friendly and safe architecture known as the New European Bauhaus.

Fred Matić said that the most important message of the resolution was that all Croatian citizens could see the benefits of belonging to the large European family. "Even if we weren't a member, we would probably receive aid, but being a full member I expect us to be well supported, and then it is up to us to make use of it," he added.

Tonino Picula said that a natural disaster must not be allowed to turn into a social disaster in affected areas. "I am confident that aid will reach those that need it the most and that it will be used both to repair the damage and to revitalise the economy in order to make up for what failed to be done during post-war reconstruction," he said.

The draft resolution "calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the EU and Croatian institutions, to devise a swift way of distributing the necessary financial and other assistance to ensure a speedy recovery of the affected areas."

In approving financial aid, the Commission is called upon to take account of the fact that Croatia is at the same time also dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Croatia is called upon "to prioritise renovation in its recovery and resilience plan, devoting particular attention to comprehensive preventative renovations that ensure the highest seismic standards for housing and buildings at greatest risk in its most earthquake-prone regions." 

The document says that the reconstruction process should be carried out as swiftly as possible, respecting transparency, applying best professional practices and taking account of the demographic aspect. Special focus should be placed on building the basic infrastructure that was lacking prior to the earthquake and access to basic needs and services should be promptly re-established in all parts of the affected areas.

The Commission is called upon to extend the 18-month time limit for the use of funds from the European Solidarity Fund in the event of a devastating earthquake.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Earthquake Geo-Information System Presented in Petrinja

ZAGREB, 20 January 2021 - An earthquake geo-information network was presented in Petrinja on Wednesday providing basic information on the situation in the area struck by a devastating earthquake on 29 December 2020. 

The system is the result of the joint efforts of the Central Office for the Development of Digital Society (SDURDD), the Faculty of Geodesy in Zagreb and the State Geodetic Administration (DGU). The system will collect data on the effects of earthquakes in the field covering almost six thousand hectares, all communities, farmland and commercial structures as well as data regarding residents' addresses, health institutions and schools.

As Deputy Prime Minister and head of the task force dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake Tomo Medved said, this is a tool that will facilitate the work and decision making by the ministries of the interior and defence, fire services and the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (HSGSS).

The application will be systematically updated on the size of the population and their social status for instance. This is a useful tool particularly regarding the removal of damage and reconstruction of buildings in earthquake-hit areas seeing that it contains photographs and information on the situation with the ground prior to and after the natural disaster.

The application is available to services participating in the removal of debris and reconstruction.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

PM Says Reconstruction Should Start as Soon as Possible

ZAGREB, 20 January 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in parliament on Tuesday that post-earthquake reconstruction of the Banovina region could be faster than that of Zagreb due to the fact that a vast majority of damaged units there were family houses that were easier to renovate than apartment blocks in Zagreb.

"To give a reconstruction calendar now would be irresponsible of me but we will do our best for reconstruction to start as soon as possible," he said in response to a question by Social Democrat MP Boška Ban Vlahek during a debate on the government-sponsored amendments to the Act on the Post-Earthquake Reconstruction in the City of Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje and Zagreb Counties, under which the law would be expanded to also apply to Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties, hit by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake on 29 December.

Plenković responded fiercely to GLAS MP and former construction minister Anka Mrak Taritaš's remark that documentation for reconstruction in Zagreb was expensive and that if the reconstruction process there was to proceed as it had so far, "we will no longer speak of Banovina or Banija but about a containerland."

"You are the champion of reconstruction in Gunja, where there were no loose ends to deal with," he said ironically, resenting Mrak Taritaš's comment about "containerland."

"How can you say that," he asked the MP who defended the model of post-flood reconstruction in Gunja during her term in office as construction minister, when, she said, 1,100 houses were reconstructed in 13 months.

Marija Selak Raspudić insisted that the government was introducing discrimination between Gornja Stubica and Petrinja, which are in the same category of underdeveloped communities, as it planned to fully finance the post-earthquake reconstruction of Petrinja while covering 80% of the reconstruction costs in Gornja Stubica, to which Plenković said that her remarks were populist platitudes.

He also had a strongly-worded response to MP Tomislav Tomašević's (Green-Left Bloc) comment that one should refrain from arbitrariness and awarding funds for reconstruction according to political preferences. 

"Are you delusional, what kind of political preferences are you talking about, do you really think that someone is so crazy to use the criterion of political preference after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake, what do you think the HDZ would gain with that?" he said.

The government has offered the parliament to define a fair model of reconstruction that would also take into account the extent of the damage and the number of houses affected in Sisak, but the law must be defendable and it must not discriminate against anyone, Plenković said, also dismissing the Opposition's criticism that the competent state institutions were late in responding to the 29 December quake.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

PM Says Government Will Do Its Best to Help Earthquake Victims, Open to Consensus

ZAGREB, 20 January 2021 - Presenting amendments to the Act on the Post-Earthquake Reconstruction in parliament on Wednesday, PM Andrej Plenković said that the government would do its best to help earthquake victims and that it was open to a consensus to achieve a long-lasting and sustainable solution.

"The aim was to provide more assistance than was the case after the first earthquake (in Zagreb) and to involve also the Central State Office for Housing Reconstruction to deal with reconstruction and housing issues in the government-assisted area under a 100% state funding scheme," Plenković said while presenting amendments that expand the law, originally intended for the City of Zagreb and Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje counties, to apply also to Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties, hit by a 6.2 magnitude quake at the end of last year.

"The government is ready to do its best to help people," he stressed.

Under the amendments, the state will cover all reconstruction costs in government-assisted areas while in other areas 60% of the costs would be covered by the state, 20% by county authorities, or by the state if those authorities cannot do it, while 20% would have to be contributed by property owners, but if they cannot afford it, the state will do so, however, it will put a lien on the property, the PM said.

"No one has to contribute anything right away. That is an important detail," he said, calling on MPs to try and reach a consensus that would secure a fair, long-lasting and sustainable solution.

He said that this was the last opportunity for a serious reconstruction and revitalisation of that part of Croatia, most of which is categorised as government-assisted.

The earthquake damage in Sisak-Moslavina, Karlovac and Zagreb counties is huge even though we still do not have a complete picture, Plenković said, noting that family houses had been damaged the most.

In Sisak-Moslavina County, applications have been submitted for the inspection of 36,617 buildings, 20,370 have been inspected and of them 2,575 are unusable while 4,212 are temporarily unusable. In Karlovac County, 804 buildings were reported, he said.

Plenković said that HRK 77 million had been collected through fund-raising campaigns and that more than HRK 40 million had been paid into the account of the Red Cross Croatia.

Referring to a speech by Bridge MP Marija Selak Raspudić who said Donja Stubica in Krapina-Zagorje County was in the same category as Petrinja in terms of the level of development, he said that she must have confused Donja Stubica with Gornja Stubica and explained that in Sisak-Moslavina County only the city of Sisak was in Group VI according to the development index.

Under the Regional Development Act, local government units that fall into groups I-IV have the status of government-assisted local government units.

Construction Minister Darko Horvat said that the state would fully finance reconstruction in government-assisted areas and that funds would be secured from the state budget, the EU Solidarity Fund, through World Bank loans and from other sources.

The amended law will apply also to areas that could later be struck by an earthquake, he said.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Telecommunications Companies to Boost Signal Strength in Quake-Hit Areas

ZAGREB, 20 January 2021 - An agreement has been reached with telecommunications companies to boost signal strength in the quake-hit areas of Sisak-Moslavina County so that students there could normally follow online classes.

This was stated by Bernard Gašić, State Secretary at the Central State Office for Digital Society, who in an interview with Croatian Radio called on citizens who have problems with signal strength to contact the task force dealing with the aftermath of the 29 December earthquake so it could help them solve the problem in cooperation with telecommunications operators.

Gašić said that his office, in cooperation with the Faculty of Geodesy and the State Geodesy Office had launched a geoinformation system to help the task force follow all activities on the ground.

The system helps the task force follow information on activities on the ground, including data on all locations in the epicentre of the earthquake, addresses, streets, settlements, counties, or citizens' residence.

Also followed are data on structural engineers' estimates of buildings damaged in the quake as well as firefighters' and the police force's activities. The system is also expected to provide information on which citizens need to be delivered meals, Gršić said.

The application is currently intended only for the work of the task force but in the long run it will be used to help citizens collect information needed to apply for housing reconstruction, Gršić said.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Germany Donates 40 Container Homes to Quake-Hit Areas

ZAGREB, 19 January 2021 - German Ambassador Robert Klinke on Tuesday presented his country's donation of 40 housing containers to quake victims in Sisak-Moslavina County, at a ceremony in the town of Lekenik.

Addressing the donation-giving ceremony, the ambassador said that the 29 December earthquake-triggered off a wave of compassion and solidarity throughout Germany.

All in Germany followed those tragic developments during the quake and in the aftermath in which several people lost their lives and many residents were left homeless, Klinke was quoted as saying in a press release issued by the Croatian Interior Ministry.

So far Germany has sent ten housing containers and the remaining 30 will arrive by the end of this week.

The diplomat recalled that Germany is providing relief aid from several levels: at the level of the federal government, through its states and also through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. For instance, the states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria have provided the quake-affected areas with assistance from their fire-fighting societies.

The Croatian ministry's state secretary Trezija Gras conveyed the gratitude of Zagreb to the German authorities for the assistance in the aftermath of the quake.

She said that Germany had sent 500 tents through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, and German firefighters had delivered 160 tonnes of aid immediately after the quake.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Canadian Ambassador Visits Petrinja and Glina

ZAGREB, 19 January 2021 - Canadian Ambassador Alan Bowman on Tuesday visited the quake-affected towns of Petrinja and Glina and held talks with officials of the Red Cross Croatia, which is in charge of distributing aid sent by Canada.

"Canada sympathises with all people affected by the earthquake. The Canadian government closely cooperates with the Red Cross in providing aid to those in need," said Bowman while addressing media in the Croatian language, after he held talks with the Red Cross Croatia director.

Bowman recalled that on the first day after the 29 December quake, Canadian Croats raised 100,000 Canadian dollars for quake victims and that the amount had in the meantime increased to nearly half a million dollars.

"The Canadian government has provided an equal amount which has been sent to Red Cross Croatia. I am here for that reason, to see the good job that is being done and to which Canada will contribute," the diplomat said.

The ambassador said that he was impressed with the Croatian government's handling of the crisis and the extent of operations conducted by the Red Cross.

"This is really impressive and I am sure that they give good assistance to those who need it," he said, adding that he would like to visit Sisak, too, to get a full insight into the aftermath of the devastating quake.

A Croatian foreign ministry state secretary, Zdenko Lucić, who accompanied the ambassador during his visit to Petrinja and Glina, thanked Canada for the abundant donation.

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