Friday, 29 January 2021

Samsung Electronics Adriatic Donates to Croatian Red Cross for Quake-Hit Areas

January 29, 2021 - As a global and socially responsible company that actively participates in the local community's life, to help the earthquake-affected areas, Samsung Electronics Adriatic donated 150,000 kunas to the Croatian Red Cross.

Due to the strong earthquake that hit Banovina at the end of 2020, including the towns of Petrinja, Sisak, and Glina and the surrounding area, many lost their homes and property. A month after the 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit Sisak-Moslavina County, donations do not stop coming from all sides. Samsung Electronics Adriatic also decided to make a contribution and, together with its employees, made a financial donation to the Croatian Red Cross to help earthquake-affected areas.

Samsung responded to the Red Cross's appeal with this donation to help the residents of the affected areas, to provide them with the necessary assistance and decent living conditions.

"As an international company that actively participates in the daily life of the local community, Samsung has decided to donate 150,000 kunas to the Croatian Red Cross, which is currently working on collecting humanitarian aid, so that all affected citizens get the help they need. An additional contribution to this donation was provided by the company's employees, who donated their own funds. At Samsung Electronics Adriatic, we think globally and act locally," said the newly elected President of Samsung Electronics Adriatic Hyoung Min. Park.

Samsung Electronics Adriatic operates in eight countries in the region. These include Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, and Northern Macedonia. It sets new standards in the world of televisions, smartphones, wearables, tablets, digital home devices, network systems, as well as solutions in the areas of memory, LSI systems, and LED devices.

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Friday, 29 January 2021

Vukovar Hospital War Doctor Treats Earthquake-Affected For Free

January 29, 2021 – Dr. Sadika Biluš had the chance to leave the war-era Vukovar Hospital as bombs increasingly rained down on the town. She refused and stayed to treat hundreds of wounded people before the hospital was captured and she was sent to a concentration camp. Today, she offers free treatment to all those from earthquake-affected Sisak-Moslavina at her polyclinic in nearby Velika Gorica

'I went through the war in Vukovar and the (concentration) camps, I know what suffering is,' Dr. Sadika Biluš told journalist Lada Novak Starčević in an interview with Jutarnji List, 'so I treat people from Banija for free.'

'I am not a cook, nor a roofer, but I know how to treat people, wrote Dr. Bilus on social media immediately after the earthquake of 29 December 2020 and opened the doors of her clinic for free to all those from the earthquake-affected area. 'So I offer free internal medicine examinations and therapy to the victims of the earthquake.'

These days Dr. Sadika Biluš owns and runs the Tomi Polyclinic for Internal Medicine and Gynecology in Velika Gorica. Her doctor's surgery may lie some 60 kilometres to the north of the earthquake's epicentre, but many polyclinics in the affected area are still not back up-and-running. The main hospital for the region, in Sisak, was heavily damaged and its gynecology department completely destroyed. Specialist examinations, such as the ones performed by Dr. Biluš, are currently near non-existent in the affected area. Dr. Biluš's own premises received damage during the fierce tremor.

croatia_hrvatska_velika_gorica_0003.jpgVelika Gorica, where Dr. Biluš's Tomi Polyclinic for Internal Medicine and Gynecology is located © Croatian National Tourist Board

It would come as no surprise to learn the earthquake had not put Dr. Biluš off her stride. She has experienced worse. During Croatia's war for independence, she was working in Vukovar hospital. The town was the most heavily damaged place in Croatia by artillery fire. As the number of shells increased and the guns drew nearer, she was offered the opportunity to leave Vukovar hospital. She refused. She stayed behind to look after the injured and the dying. The cost of this action was her freedom. When Vukovar hospital was captured, Dr. Biluš was taken to a concentration camp. She was released at the end of 1991.

'After Vukovar and all the torment we went through, I did not cry,' Dr. Bilus recounted to the journalist. Following the earthquake, she was deeply moved by seeing on TV all of the help offered immediately to those in the earthquake area. 'But now I cried terribly and out of emotion because that accident encouraged people to do so much good.'

Monday, 25 January 2021

Petrinja Quake to Bring Into Question Nuclear Waste Disposal Site at Trgovska Gora?

ZAGREB, 25 January, 2021 - The devastating earthquake that hit Sisak-Moslavina County and the town of Petrinja on 29 December serves as a warning of how much that area is prone to earthquakes and plans for the construction of a radioactive waste disposal site in that part of Croatia should be reconsidered.

This was stated during a debate in the Bosnia and Herzegovina parliament on Monday, with Snježana Cvijić Amulić, who is the Republika Srpska Seismological Institute's official in charge of observational seismology, said that the energy released by the earthquake that struck Petrinja was such that the existing projections of seismic activity would have to be revised both on the Croatian and the Bosnian side of the border.

"We can no longer talk about the maximum eight but the maximum nine degrees on the Mercalli scale (in) the most critical seismic location," Cvijić Amulić said during the debate, organised by the Greens parliamentary group.

The debate was yet another event held as part of a campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina geared towards preventing the construction of the radioactive waste disposal site at Trgovska Gora in Dvor municipality, near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The underground storage facilities that are part of the former Čerkezovac barracks should be repurposed for the storage of low and medium radioactive waste.

As of 2020 the management of the former barracks has been within the remit of the Croatian Fund for financing the decommissioning of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK) and the disposal of NEK radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.

That fund has been tasked with determining if the location is suitable for that purpose by making an environmental impact study, to include geological, geohydrological, geomorphological, ecological, seismological and other exploratory activities.

Only if the research shows that the project will not have a negative impact on the environment will the procedure be launched to obtain a building permit.

The Croatian towns of Dvor and Petrinja, too, have opposed the project.

BiH Foreign Trade and Economy Minister Staša Košarac said today that in the worst-case scenario his country could seek international arbitration.

Saturday, 23 January 2021

26 Houses in Hrvatska Kostajnica Declared Unfit for Use Since Quake

ZAGREB, 23 January, 2021 - The town of Hrvatska Kostajnica, located some 50 kilometres of the epicentre of the 29 December 6.2 earthquake, has sustained considerable damage from that disaster, and several hundred houses were either destroyed or damaged in that community with about 2,700 inhabitants.

 So far 26 houses have been declared unfit for use.

The mayor Dalibor Bišćan has recently said in an interview with Hina that reports about the quake damage are still being complied and sent to the relevant authorities.

A representative of the Sisak-Moslavina county task force for dealing with the aftermath of the quakes, has informed Hina that so far 400 chimneys and roofs in Hrvatska Kostajnica have been repaired since the December earthquake

This town on the left bank of the Una River, which is also the borderline with Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been exposed to natural disasters in the recent years.

Mayor Bišćan recalls that the quake was the third disaster in a short period.

He recalled disastrous floods and landslide that occurred in March 2018 when 12 family houses were destroyed.

The December earthquakes activated two landslides, jeopardising five houses.

Municipality of Dvor: So far 1,024 reports about quake damage

The mayor of the nearby municipality of Dvor, Nikola Arbutina has told Hina that the earthquake caused damage to this municipality which consists of 60 villages scattered on an area large over 505 square kilometres.

Arbutina, has said that most of Dvor 5,500 inhabitants are elderly citizens, living far from the municipality's centre.

To date, the authorities have received 1,024 reports about the quake damage.

Monday, 18 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.

Monday, 18 January 2021

Quake-Affected Households Won't Pay Electricity, Heating Bills, TV Licence Fee

ZAGREB, 18 January, 2021 - The government on Monday decided to exempt households in Sisak-Moslavina County, hit by a devastating earthquake on 29 December, from paying electricity and heating bills for January, February and March as well as from paying the TV licence fee.

Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić said that in January, February and March the state-owned HEP power company would not charge for electricity people whose houses were damaged by the quake and that it would also not charge them for connecting their temporary housing units and later reconnecting their rebuilt homes to the power grid.

As for people who use the services of a power supplier other than HEP, they will not be charged for distribution and transmission costs, said the minister.

The same measure will apply to households in the case of heating bills.

In a Twitter post after the government session, Ćorić said that he had called on other companies to join in the write-off of utility bills since a part of the households in the quake-hit area use their services.

Answering a reporter's question, he said that four companies provided power in Sisak-Moslavina County, including HEP, and that three operated in the quake-hit areas.

Quake-affected households exempt from paying TV licence fee 

The government also decided that in order to help alleviate the consequences of the 29 December earthquake, the HRT public broadcaster should not collect the TV licence fee from quake-hit households for the first three months of this year.

HRK 25m in emergency aid for repair of county and local roads

The government also decided to allocate HRK 25 million in emergency aid for the repair of county and local roads in Sisak-Moslavina County, and the amount will be secured by the HC road operator.

According to preliminary estimates, damage caused to state, county and local roads in Sisak-Moslavina County totals HRK 57 million, without VAT, said Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković.

HRK 1.5 mn for fodder

Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said that her ministry would allocate emergency aid in the amount of HRK 1.5 million for the purchase of fodder for the next 30 days in order to enable the continuation of animal husbandry in the quake-hit areas.

She said the biggest problem at present was the lack of concentrate and compound feed.

Monday, 18 January 2021

Ministry: Seventeen Schools in Quake-Hit Area Postpone Start of 2nd Term

ZAGREB, 18 January, 2021 - At the start of the second school term in Croatian schools, slightly fewer than 180,000 pupils are attending face-to-face classes according to model A, while 17 schools in Sisak-Moslavina County have been given approval to postpone the start of classes.

According to the data from the Science and Education Ministry, a total of 150,636 pupils in lower grades of primary school and about 29,000 students in the fourth grade of secondary school are attending classes in schools.

Students in higher grades of primary school and in the first, second and third grade of secondary school have online classes.

The start of the second term has been postponed for sixteen primary schools in Sisak-Moslavina County and the Glina Secondary School.

There are 53 schools in Sisak-Moslavina County -- 37 primary schools, 13 secondary schools and three music schools, there are 14,704 pupils and 2,754 school workers. There are also 21 kindergartens attended by 3,489 children.

Following the devastating earthquake that struck the county on December 29, nine of those buildings are unusable, 12 are temporarily unusable, 12 are usable with certain parts of buildings still posing a risk, and 23 are usable without limitations.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Petrinja Mayor Satisfied With Legislative Solutions for Post-Quake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - Petrinja Mayor Darinko Dumbović said on Friday that he was satisfied with the proposed legislative regulations for the reconstruction of damaged houses in the quake-hit areas of Sisak-Moslavina County, which will entirely be financed from the state budget.

Asked by reporters if he was satisfied with the legislative regulation on reconstruction, Dumbović said that any law that will be quickly implemented was good.

He elaborated that he was satisfied that the 60:20:20 formula for financing the post-quake reconstruction, which will be applied in Zagreb, had been amended for the quake-affected areas  in Sisak and Karlovac Counties so the rebuilding of the damaged houses in that region should be entirely covered from the state budget.

On Thursday, the government sent to the parliament draft amendments to the law on the post-quake reconstruction of the City of Zagreb, Krapina-Zagorje and Zagreb Counties to include the regulation of the reconstruction of Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac Counties, hit by the 29 December 6.2 magnitude quake.

The state will provide full funding for the reconstruction of the property in which the owner lives in these two counties (Sisak and Karlovac) since they are underdeveloped, according to the explanation provided by Construction Minister Darko Horvat on Thursday.

The law on Zagreb's post-earthquake reconstruction envisages that 60% of the reconstruction cost will be financed by the government, 20% by the local authorities and 20% by property owners.

During his visit to Petrinja, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević today underscored the importance of good cooperation with local government without which results would be absent.

"NGOs are an added value and we have to act together as a team. Any donation helps the people and we have to be grateful for them. It is important that everyone is in warmth and that they have a hot meal," said Milošević.

A delegation of the Serb National Council (SNV) visited Gornja Bačuga where it donated five stoves to vulnerable families and presented a donation from the Red Cross consisting of 500 pairs of rubber boots, adding that another 1,000 pairs are expected to arrive soon.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Par'l Committee: Concrete Support to Farmers in Earthquake-Hit Areas Needed Now

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - Farmers in earthquake-hit areas need concrete help immediately so that they can stay and live and work there, it was said at a meeting of the parliamentary Agriculture Committee on Friday.

In three months' time the committee will convene to analyse what has been done to assist people affected by the earthquakes in 2020.

Farmers are faced with many problems - damaged houses, farm buildings and equipment, polluted wells and buyers who are taking advantage of the situation and offering low prices for their cattle, the committee heard.

The one thing that is obvious is that no one wants to leave their homes, the committee chair, MP Marijana Petir, said.

She said that farmers should be provided with temporary accommodation as soon as possible but also with shelter for farm animals. "We need to act quickly and concretely because if farms shut down, they will never reopen," underscored Petir.

She added that applications for farm support need to be make simpler for earthquake-hit areas as farmers there cannot meet the current criteria.

Everyone needs help immediately

Božidar Antolec from a local action group called for help so that local farmers can place their products on the market and that they be temporarily exempted from paying contributions or at least that they be deferred.

Croatian Chamber of Agriculture (HPK) president Mladen Jakopović said that two large retail chains had offered to place farmers' products from earthquake areas on their shelves through a simplified procedure and one had promised logistics in that regard.

The HPK advocates that support should be provided so that people remain in the area. Jakopović said that the HPK was delivering the first of several housing containers to the area today.

The committee's deputy chair, MP Ružica Vukovac (DP), said that there were problems on the ground, presenting an example in Donja Bačuga where it took three days for the competent services to save a herd of cattle, which, she said, showed that there was a problem in the chain of command.

Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković and state secretary Tugomir Majdak rejected this criticism, saying that they had been in the field constantly.

"That is not a realistic description. The cattle wasn't abandoned and there is no need to exaggerate the situation," Minister Vučković said.

She supported the suggestion that the majority of local products should be used in local kindergartens, schools, hospitals. "We are working on that, however, it is necessary to increase production in that area," she underscored. 

Projects valued at more than HRK 1 billion agreed to

Speaking about rural development measures, Vučković said that by 13 January projects valued at HRK 1.08 billion had been agreed to for Sisak-Moslavina County and that HRK 851 million had been paid out. HRK 137 million refers to social and utility infrastructure and HRK 67 million of that has been paid out.

Rural development measures for family-run farms valued at HRK 164 million have been agreed to for 81 projects and 29 projects valued at HRK 1.7 million have been agreed to for emergency aid due to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 451 projects for the development of small farms, launching of non-farming activities and support to young farmers valued at HRK 80.3 million have also been agreed to, said Vučković and added that direct payments were accelerated and that to date HRK 93 million, which is usually paid as of 15 February, had already been paid out.

Friday, 15 January 2021

No Reconstruction Possible Without Imported Workers, Says Daily

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - Reconstruction in areas hit by the devastating earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County will not be possible without importing workers from Asia or Ukraine, the Večernji List daily said in an article on Friday, noting that contractors in Croatia are warning of a critical labour shortage. 

The construction sector is one of the few sectors in which the number of workers increased last year, by about 7,000 from the same period in 2019.

Currently there are about 124,000 workers in the construction sector, the third largest in the country, after the manufacturing industry and retail. However, all stakeholders in that sector say that manpower will be the main obstacle to reconstruction in the earthquake-hit areas.

Even prior to the latest earthquake companies in the sector had up to 5,000 vacancies that they could not fill even with workers from foreign markets. In 2020 contractors employed about 23,000 foreign workers while Mirjana Čagalj, the vice president of the construction sector in the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), expects they will all remain and that contractors will have to hire another 10,000 imported workers.

Recently channels were opened to hire workers from India and other Asian countries as well as Ukraine.

The Employment Service has decided to enhance its programme to hire the long-term unemployed for public works in Sisak-Moslavina County, its initial plan being to employ about 500 people. Should there be further interest or need, that number can be increased.

Workers in these jobs are earning a minimum wage which amounts to HRK 3,400 net a month, in addition to travel allowance. Social Democrat MP Davorko Vidović, who is from Sisak and has for years been working with the HGK on issues related to the labour market, is confident that that programme could provide a social component but that it will not resolve the problem of labour shortage in the construction sector, the daily says.

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