Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Plenković: Less than 2% of Houses Reconstructed after War Not Fit for Use after Quake

ZAGREB, 19 January, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that less than two percent of houses reconstructed in Sisak-Moslavina County after the Homeland War have been found unfit to live in following a 6.2 magnitude earthquake on 29 December.

Organised post-war reconstruction in Sisak-Moslavina County referred to 5,880 houses belonging in the categories IV to VI (most extensive damage) and 3,761 of them have now been inspected and of that number, 69 or 1.83% have been declared unfit for use while 175 are temporarily unfit for use, the PM said during Question Time in parliament, in response to criticism by MP Dalija Orešković (Centre Party).

"You were among the first crying out for an inquiry commission that was supposed to identify HDZ as the main culprit for all the wrongdoing in post-war reconstruction," Plenković told Orešković who 'admitted' that he was not personally responsible for the reinforcements and steel 'that were stolen', but called him out for being personally responsible for undermining the independence of state institutions during his term in office.

Give me one example, he retorted, recalling that the prosecutorial authorities had launched an investigation into HDZ state-secretary Josipa Rimac just one month ahead of the parliamentary election, and after the elections into the head of a public company and two MPs. "Has anyone told institutions - in the case of (Požega mayor and HDZ MP Darko) Puljašić and (Sisak-Moslavina County) prefect Žinić, don't meddle in that?", Plenković told Orešković.

No one is untouchable

"Anyone for whom that is still not clear must be told that no one is untouchable and that is why your political theories... don't hold water," said Plenković.

The prime minister answered negatively when asked by MP Tomislav Tomašević (We Can!) if he believes that Croatia belongs to the HDZ or that people who oppose the HDZ are against the state.

"Of course we don't think that. Do we believe that our political opponents are destroying the state - no, but we are here to prevent the destruction of state institutions," said Plenković, citing in that context the attitude towards the Red Cross.

"Is it normal to have a slur campaign against the Red Cross, I don't think it is, I  opposed it and will continue to oppose it," Plenković said.


Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Nearly 45,000 Buildings in Sisak-Moslavina County Reported Damaged in Earthquake

ZAGREB, 19 January, 2021 - Nearly 45,000 buildings in Sisak-Moslavina County have been reported damaged in the 6.2 earthquake that struck on 29 December 2020, compared with 26,000 buildings reported damaged after the 5.5 earthquake hit Zagreb on 22 March 2020, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević told parliament on Tuesday.

The 29 December earthquake claimed seven lives and caused extensive property damage in Glina, Petrinja, Sisak and surrounding communities.

About 400 people left homeless have been placed in collective accommodation in the army barracks in Petrinja and the Topusko spa, and about 114 have so far been accommodated in houses and apartments made available by the State Office for Reconstruction. Five hundred mobile homes have been set up, while the exact number of those provided through private donations is not known, Milošević said in response to an appeal by Dragana Jeckov of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) to speed up the accommodation and reconstruction processes. 

Milošević said that over 300 structural engineers were at the scene working round the clock, that the Red Cross had distributed 467 tonnes of food and over 240,000 hot meals, and that the post-earthquake reconstruction bill was in parliament 20 days after the disaster.

"Tomorrow we will discuss amendments to the Reconstruction Act. We are ready to help the residents of Sisak as much as we can, we don't want them to feel discriminated against," Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said after Social Democrat Peđa Grbin asked whether the government decision to fully finance the reconstruction of the affected areas would also apply to Sisak.

"The earthquake has devastated Sisak to such an extent that the development criterion does not apply," the prime minister said, recalling that Sisak-Moslavina County was an assisted area, while Sisak proper was not, given its development index.

Grbin noted that the prime minister had not specified whether earthquake victims in Zagreb, who are currently living in housing containers, would have their utility bills covered by the government in the same way earthquake victims in Sisak-Moslavina County would.

Speaking of vaccination against COVID-19, Plenković said that any surplus doses would be donated to "our friendly countries", to which Marija Selak Raspudić of the Bridge party quipped: "It would be more useful for you to have a plan rather than think about surpluses that you would donate."

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Earthquake Donations in Action: Croatian Entrepreneurs (UGP) Fund Report, January 18

January 19, 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

Yesterday, we delivered two housing containers to families in Petrinja and Sisak. While they are waiting for the renovation and construction of their homes, the family of Ana Bjelanović and the family of Gordana Ivanković got a safe roof over their heads.


What's next?

This week we are planning to deliver six more housing containers to families from Petrinja, Sisak and Glina. 

Also, today we announced UGP house - earthquake-resistant house that was developed by our Committee for Architecture and Construction. The house is adapted to the city and rural lifestyle. In addition, the house is made to be adaptable to expansion of family and life of three generations under the same roof. In addition, it is designed for a minimum of four members of the household. Although there are many elderly people in the affected area, we concluded that in the long run it is better to build a home that one day a family can move into with children. That is the demographic aspect of this project.

We will start the construction of the UGP house as soon as the weather conditions allow it.

You can read more about it in this TCN article.


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

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Petrinja Mayor Dumbović: New Damage in Latest Tremor, No Injuries Reported

ZAGREB, 19 January, 2021 -  Petrinja Mayor Darinko Dumbović said on Tuesday that the 3.8 magnitude tremor earlier in the morning caused new damage, particularly around Glina, adding that no one was injured. 

"The earthquake showed all its might and anything that was left in the city, that could fall down, was felt and heard. Roof tiles and other material fell off houses on to the streets," Dumbović told a local radio broadcaster.

He underscored that villages around Glina suffered a lot of damage, "a lot of houses were damaged." "So many houses are damaged it's horrific," said Dumbović.

He said that 52 local government units had reported huge damage in that area and underlined that the area needs to determine priorities for the devastated economic, social and public infrastructure.

The state needs to do all it can for every person to remain here, he added.

State doesn't need to treat the county as one requiring special care

Dumbović said that the state doesn't need to treat the country as one requiring special care "because in the over-centralised state, that is a true example that there has not been any assistance here."

"The state never saw us in our true form as where the homeland was created," he claimed.

The head of the energy department in the Ministry of Economy, Kristina Čelić stressed that the national electricity provider HEP was doing everything it could to repair the electricity grid in earthquake-hit areas.

She noted that the government and HEP had agreed to exempt citizens in these areas from electricity bills for the next three months.

Asked whether that referred to people whose homes were labelled red or yellow, Čelić said that that decision was up to local government units.

For more on the Petrinja earthquake and to see how you can donate money, food, humanitarian, sanitary and material aid, follow our dedicated section.


Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Medved: So Far 507 Housing Containers and Mobile Homes Delivered

ZAGREB, 18 January 2021 - Tomo Medved, Deputy Prime Minister and head of the task force dealing with the aftermath of the December earthquake, on Monday said that so far 507 housing containers and mobile homes had been installed for affected people in Sisak-Moslavina County, with 130 installed in the past three days.

"Since last week we enhanced our teams for the delivery and instalment of containers and mobile homes and rendering them ready for use, and so far a total of 507 have been installed, with 130 installed in the past three days," Medved told a cabinet meeting.

He reported that more than 650 temporary housing units had been connected to the electricity grid, including those obtained through private donations.

He added that the task force had been meeting regularly and in addition to eight regular meetings, it held a thematical meeting with representatives from the Finance Ministry who have prepared guidelines and recommendations for local government.

Local civil protection authorities have registered a total of 2,500 applications for temporary accommodation for people who lost their homes in the devastating earthquake, and 777 have been listed as urgent.

"To date we have registered 2,045 people who have temporarily registered addresses outside Sisak-Moslavina County," added Medved.

He underscored that the task force has adopted a conclusion to procure material to set up a container settlement in Petrinja as well as setting up tents for citizens and volunteers in Glina.

A conclusion has been adopted to mobilise more transport companies to help speed up the delivery of containers and mobile houses from the Lekenik base and for the purpose of removing damaged chimneys and to repair roofs in the Sisak area.

He said that local government units would deliver meals at certain checkpoints and would be responsible for delegating people for food deliveries.

"We have distributed 52 tonnes of food, 25,263 hot meals, 5,774 meals for operative forces. Considering the consequences of the earthquake, we have provided 892 psychological services, held a meeting with the National Centre for Psychological Trauma and other providers of psychological help in order to coordinate work in the field," said Medved.

Since the government's last meeting, structural engineers have received 5,328 new requests for their buildings to be inspected and so far 3,258 have been examined.

"To date a total of 46,902 requests have been received and 21,628 buildings have been examined. As a result, of the total number of buildings examined, there are 2,639 buildings labelled red, 4,422 labelled yellow and 12,609 labelled green," Medved underlined.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Minister Says Housing Reconstruction Could Start in Early Summer

ZAGREB, 18 January 2021 - Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak said on Monday that the reconstruction of the quake-struck Sisak-Moslavina County could start in the second half of the year, in early summer.

"We will primarily seek funding available under EU programmes. We are speaking about €111 million to be used for housing reconstruction, that is, construction or renovation of the housing stock... to provide for the elderly, the feeble, the disabled, marginalised groups, members of ethnic minorities, etc," the minister told reporters before a government session.

She explained that the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion was being amended and that measures were being awaited that would define reconstruction models.

"The funds are already available, we are now waiting for the programme to be finalised," Tramišak said, adding that an informal dialogue with the European Commission had already started.

The EC is willing to change operational programmes and implementation could start this year, she said.

Asked when the first houses could be rebuilt, she said that their construction could start in the second half of the year, possibly in spring or summer.

"It all depends on how quickly we will design the model house and interview people interested in that type of housing construction. We are talking about the construction of new sections of settlements and about state-owned flats and houses, similar to how the Central State Office for Housing has done so far, giving every year a certain number of state-owned houses and flats for use to families in need," she explained.

Asked how much of an obstacle unclear property-rights relations could be, she said that she was talking about the construction of entire sections of settlements or the renovation of existing state-owned housing units, where there were no unclear property-rights relations.

As for the EU Solidarity Fund, she said that a full appraisal of the damage caused by the 29 December 2020 earthquake was being awaited, after which it would be sent to the Fund.

She explained that money from the Solidarity Fund, unlike the funding the state already has for family houses, was intended for the reconstruction of public infrastructure and buildings.

The Solidarity Fund is notified about the amount of total direct damage caused to public buildings, business facilities and family houses, and that amount must exceed HRK 2.3 billion, which is already turning out to be the case, the minister said, adding that the EC then approved aid in the amount of six percent at the most.

Aid in the amount of between 2 to 3% of the estimated damage will be used for public infrastructure, she said. 

Significant budget funds will be required as well, and significant funding can also be sought under the new programming period 2021-2027 that is being worked on, Tramišak said.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Magnitude 3.8 Aftershock Registered in Petrinja Area

ZAGREB, 19 January 2021 - Croatia's Seismological Survey registered a magnitude 3.8 earthquake at 5.44 a.m. on Tuesday whose epicentre was 10 km northeast of Glina in the Petrinja area.

The tremor was felt in Petrinja, Sisak and Zagreb.

The Banovina region was struck by a magnitude 6.2 quake on 29 December and numerous stronger and weaker aftershocks have been registered since.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Over 100 Croatian Musicians Donating Royalties to Sisak Music School

January 19, 2021 - The Croatian Society of Composers (HDS) and its service ZAMP have recently launched a campaign titled 'Playlist for Sisak Music School' to restore the earthquake-damaged Fran Lhotka Music School building. 

Jutarnji List reports that Zlatan Stipišić Gibonni, Marijan Ban, Aljoša Šerić, Lea Dekleva, Branimir Mihaljević are just some of the many artists who responded to the action of the Croatian Society of Composers and its ZAMP service launched recently called 'Playlist for Sisak Music School' to restore the earthquake-damaged Fran Lhotka Music School building. More than 100 local music artists, composers, songwriters, and publishers have already responded to the call, donating royalties from their copyrights to charity, and the list is updated daily.

This campaign was launched on the successful campaign model from 2014, 'Playlist for Slavonia' by which the right holders and HDS ZAMP then donated more than 440 thousand kuna for flooded areas. Even now, many musicians and members of the Croatian Society of Composers have waived royalties from one or more of their famous compositions and some from their entire repertoire. The total amount generated from the public performance and broadcasting of these songs on radio, television, and via the Internet will be paid into the account for the Music School's renovation. It is too early to talk about the amount collected because the situation with public music performances is now much different from in 2014. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are no public concerts and performances that would help increase the amount.

The playlist currently contains more than 200 songs of various musical genres. Pop, rock, and authors of klapa or tamburitza music together with colleagues from jazz, alternative and classical music will help the return of young musical talents to the benches so that music can continue to live in Sisak and Sisak-Moslavina County," said Antun Tomislav Saban, HDS Secretary-General who thanks everyone who decided to join this selfless gesture, especially since it comes at a time when royalties have been the only source of income for many musicians throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and perhaps for the foreseeable future. 

"At the same time, we ask that music editors of radio and television stations, following their program guidelines, broadcast songs from the Playlist in the coming period to make the collected amount as high as possible. We know that they will be happy to help rebuild the school in this way," concluded HDS ZAMP.

For more on the Petrinja earthquake and to see how you can donate money, food, humanitarian, sanitary, and material aid, follow our dedicated section.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Croatian Voice of Entrepreneurs Association Thinks Up Quake-Resistant House

January the 19th, 2021 - The Croatian Voice of Entrepreneurs Association has thought up a quake-proof house following the natural disaster which struck central Croatia, more specifically Sisak-Moslavina County back at the end of 2020.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Voice of Entrepreneurs Association has pointed out that the reconstruction process in Sisak-Moslavina County should take place in two phases.

''As we've already said, the first phase is all about housing people, and the second phase is about reviving the economy and providing space for work. We've gathered partners and donors together and devised quality solutions that can help the reconstruction happen as soon as possible. Namely, our main goal is to ensure that the population doesn't leave the area and that we revitalise the region in a quality way. Therefore, the Croatian Voice of Entrepreneurs Association Committee for Architecture and Construction has come and offered the first solution - a house, a typical, earthquake-resistant house that can be moved into quickly.

Since the launch of the "Entrepreneurs for Sisak-Moslavina County" initiative, we've been thinking about how and to whom we can donate funds, and we were guided by two ideas. First of all, we wanted to help right away, so we made the decision to buy 20 housing containers. In this way, we wanted to ensure that people have a roof over their heads while they wait for the renovation of their houses. After that, we made the decision to design and build this house. Only a week after the decision to build them, the house was designed, developed and presented to the public.

The designers, gathered within the Committee for Architecture and Construction of the Croatian Association of Entrepreneurs, prepared all the necessary documentation, project and cost estimates, and many of our members donated the materials needed for construction.

The basic guidelines when designing this sort of house are that the architecture is not invasive, that it naturally fits into the rural, suburban, and even the urban ambience of Banovina and Moslavina. The house is designed so that it can be detached. It was also important to have the possibility of building a ground floor, and later expanding to the attic space. In addition, the house is designed to be easily adaptable to almost all structural systems, so I'd like to invite donors of materials and structural systems to participate in this humanitarian action,'' said Mislav Basic, coordinator of the Committee for Architecture and Construction of the Croatian Voice of Entrepreneurs Association.

There were several criteria which needed to be fulfilled when designing this house, known as the UGP (Udruga Glas Poduzetnika/Voice of Entrepreneurs Association) house. It should boast modern and functional architecture, must be resistant to earthquakes, and the house needs to be adapted to both urban and rural lifestyles. In addition, the house needed to be made to be adaptable to the expansion of a family and the lifestyles of three generations living under the same roof. In addition, it needed to be designed for a minimum of four household members.

''Although there are many elderly people living in the quake-affected area, we concluded that in the long run it is better to build a home that one day a family with children can move into. That is the demographic aspect of this project. We're going to start the construction of the UGP houses as soon as the weather conditions allow for it. We plan that in just a month the contours of the house will be finished. We hope that the authorities will recognise our solutions and that we'll be able to achieve some sort of mutual cooperation. We believe that for the area of ​​Sisak-Moslavina County, the key is unity and the desire to renew and revitalise the whole area as soon as possible. We hereby call on the Croatian Government to adopt an Act which would simplify the documentation procedures and which would speed up the process of obtaining permits for the construction of these houses. the Croatian Voice of Entrepreneurs Association will deal with all the necessary project documentation for the building permits, and the only thing we're looking for is a reduction in bureaucracy,'' the Association stated.

For more on the Petrinja earthquake, follow our dedicated section.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Volunteering in Quake-Hit Banovina

January the 19th, 2021 - Former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has been lending a helping hand in quake-stricken Banovina. The Petrinja earthquake which struck Sisak-Moslavina County back at the very end of December 2020 marked the end of a truly horrendous pandemic-dominated year, and with a lot to be cleaned up and rebuilt, the former president has been getting involved.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic visited the Radosevic family's estate in Novi Seliste near Petrinja last week. The devastating earthquake destroyed all material memories and anything of value for this deeply unfortunate family, and with professional and financial help, a new concrete house will now be built for them.

The owner of the house, 36-year-old Ivica, saw a light at the end of the tunnel with the help of the former president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.

''When an acquaintance called me and said 'Ivica, you know what? Kolinda is coming to you tomorrow,' I thought he was kidding around with me. I didn’t believe it at all straight away. And then when I saw her standing in the yard, I beamed. Not just me, but the whole family did. My heart was pounding for an hour! However, despite the fact that she's the former president, her move was not politically motivated,'' Ivica told Jutarnji list. He stated that Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic inquired about the recent Petrinja earthquake, the family, the whole area, and asked them what they still needed.

"She promised to return in a week or two because she came in the company of experts who measured the terrain and did some sketches, and they'll build me a new house on the site where the old one once stood,'' says Radosevic, not hiding his satisfaction with the promises he has been given.

The Radosevic family house was otherwise set on fire back during the war, and after years of decay it was rebuilt by the state.

"The work was sloppy and we were happy to have a roof over our heads, but I didn't expect the house to disappear like this in just a second," said the father of six. On the day of the Petrinja earthquake, he was at work at the Petrinja cemetery as an employee of Komunalac. A resident of Novi Seliste says that the former president stayed with Ivica for quite a long time.

''As she walked through the muddy yard and talked to the neighbour’s children and played with their dog, which obviously reminds her of her own adopted dog, Kika, none of us even thought it would be her. She had a mask on and was dressed just like any other normal worker out in the field,'' said another local.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic came to Banovina to volunteer with other people, she wore a mask and a green cap with the Croatian coat of arms on it and spent her days volunteering in the kitchen before Pleter took over the food supply. Some locals also learned that she gave them words of comfort and took large boxes of groceries out of the vans and took them to the locations where they were most needed.

''Kolinda was just a masked volunteer. She was like all of us, nameless, without any self-promotion. She carried liquids with food and hauled goods. She didn't stop even once,'' said one volunteer.

For more on the Petrinja earthquake, follow our dedicated section.

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