Monday, 28 March 2022

Up to €173M to be Necessary in Scenario that Croatia Cares for 20,000 Refugees

28 March 2022 - The Jutarnji List daily on Monday commented on recent estimates presented by Interior Minister Davor Božinović that in the scenario that Croatia should care for 20,000 refugees, this would cost HRK 1.3 billion annually provided that the refugees exercise all the rights they are entitled to.

There are now roughly 10,000 Ukrainians who have found refuge in Croatia since fleeing the war in their country.

Croatia has undertaken to care for 20,000 refugees from that eastern European country.

According to rough estimates prepared by the Interior Ministry, the daily costs per refugee are 143 kuna (€19). This average is calculated from the average costs for the adult and for the underage refugee.

Of the 10,409 registered refugees, 50% are women and 40% are children. The daily outlay from the state budget for all of them stands now at HRK1.44 million (€199,000).

The structure of covered costs includes accommodation costs, healthcare, kindergarten and school attendance, one-off grants, as well as transport costs.

Two thirds of the costs go for accommodation.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Rally of Support for Ukraine Held in Osijek

ZAGREB, 27 March 2022 - A peaceful rally of support for Ukraine was held on Sunday in the eastern city of Osijek, and addressing it, Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Kyrylych said that genocide was underway against Ukrainians, but that in spite of that, Ukraine would defend itself.

Speaking at the rally in Osijek's central square, Kyrylych said that the rally was organised to "once again support Ukraine in the brutal war launched by the Russian Federation."

"What is happening in Ukraine is not only war, genocide is being committed against its people", he said, noting that city neighbourhoods, schools, hospitals and kindergartens were being destroyed and that so far 138 children had been killed in Ukraine.

"In this brutal war, there is on one side a cult of brute force, a cult of the dictator and tyrant and on the other truth and defence of one's country. We are on our own land and we are defending it", the ambassador said, thanking the Croatian government, Osijek-Baranja County and the City of Osijek for their strong support to Ukraine and for having taken in Ukrainian refugees. 

The president of the Association of Ukrainians in Croatia, Vlado Karešin, too, thanked Croatia for its support to Ukraine.

The rally was also attended by Osijek city officials and MPs Romana Nikolić and Domagoj Hajduković.

For more, check out our dedicated politics and lifestyle sections.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

10,409 Ukrainian Refugees Have arrived in Croatia

ZAGREB, 27 March 2022 - A total of 10,409 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Croatia so far, of whom 2,136 in the last seven days, the Ministry of the Interior has said on the Croatia for Ukraine website.

Of the 10,409 refugees, 5,064 are women, 3,996 children and 1,349 men.

Since 25 February the Civil Protection Directorate has mobilised 36 facilities to accommodate the refugees, three reception centres and 33 facilities for collective accommodation, one catering company and one transport company.

Currently 29 persons are staying in privately-owned properties, 1,338 have been provided with collective accommodation and 9,042 have been provided with accommodation on an individual basis.

The Ministry of the Interior on 20 March launched a bilingual website that provides daily information of relevance for Ukrainian refugees and for Croatians offering assistance to them.

The website Hrvatska za Ukrajinu (Croatia for Ukraine) contains information on the number of refugees arriving in Croatia, accommodation capacity, ways to help the refugees and information for Croatians who have taken in the refugees.

The section of the website in the Ukrainian language provides answers to the most frequently asked questions.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 25 March 2022

UNICEF Croatia Raises €400,000 in Donations for Children in Ukraine

ZAGREB, 25 March (2022) - UNICEF's Croatia Office has raised over HRK 3 million (€400,000) in donations for children in war-torn Ukraine, as well as for children in neighbouring countries and Croatia, the organisation said on Friday.

UNICEF Croatia said it has made itself available to the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate to work together with other institutions and organisations in providing support to children and families from Ukraine.

It said it was ready to provide psychosocial and other forms of support to children separated from their parents and help in strengthening the competencies of schools in Croatia that have accepted Ukrainian pupils.

Strengthening socioemotional competencies has proved very successful in Sisak-Moslavina County following an earthquake in late 2020, UNICEF Croatia said, adding that it has expertise in crisis situations and has dispatched its own experts to Poland and Romania to help with the biggest migrant crisis in recent history.

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine a month ago, over 1.5 million children have left Ukraine and most of them, together with their families, have found refuge in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova and Romania.

Ukrainian children arriving in neighbouring countries are facing great risks, such as separation from their families, violence, sexual exploitation and human trafficking, UNICEF warned.

By 17 March, UNICEF had delivered 85 trucks with 858 tonnes of relief supplies for children and their families in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.

For more news about Croatia, click here.


Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Beroš: Number of New COVID Cases Down by 17%

ZAGREB, 23 March 2022 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Wednesday that the number of new COVID cases had fallen by 17% however, regardless of "a lull in the epidemic," he called on citizens for continued responsible conduct and necessary caution.

"In the past 24 hours there were 2,077 positive cases registered, or 17.53% fewer new cases compared to last Wednesday", Beroš said at a cabinet meeting.

Since the beginning of February, the number of COVID related deaths has decreased significantly and the number of hospitalised patients in that period has halved from 1,400 to less than 700.

"According to the opinion of epidemiologists, they expect milder and milder symptoms in new cases, with fewer deaths and fewer hospitalised patients", said Beroš.

He added that all the relevant epidemiological parameters are constantly being monitored and the epidemiological framework is being adapted accordingly.

"Entering into the third year of the epidemic, even though we in a lull we have to be aware that responsible conduct and caution are a must," underscored Beroš and recalled that there are still many unanswered questions of the possibility of new mutations emerging or of the length of immunity after recovery or vaccination.

2,080 health services provided to Ukrainian refugees

The minister also informed that since 25 February some 2,080 health services had been provided to Ukrainian citizens with 227 receiving hospital services and 15 patients being hospitalised. Thirteen Ukrainians have been diagnosed with the coronavirus infection.

During a meeting of EU health ministers last week, including Croatia, a recommendation was made to the European Commission to ensure funds for health care for refugee Ukrainians and Beroš said that this will also be Croatia's stance at the extraordinary meeting of the Council of the EU on 29 March regarding employment, social policy, health and consumer protection (EPSCO) issues.

For more, check our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Prime Minister: 9,357 Ukrainian Refugees in Croatia, Accommodation, Costs to be Resolved

ZAGREB, 23 March 2022 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that so far 9,357 Ukrainian refugees had entered Croatia, telling representatives of county and city authorities that the most important thing was to resolve the issue of accommodation for the refugees and to cover those costs.

During a meeting with county heads, representatives of the Association of Cities and the Association of Municipalities, as well as an inter-departmental task force dealing with the reception and accommodation of Ukrainian refugees, Plenković said that by Wednesday morning 9,357 refugees had entered Croatia, 4,556 of whom were women (48.7%), 1,172 were men (12.5%) and 3,629 were children (38.8%).

The prime minister said the purpose of the meeting was to improve coordination between the state and county governments.

"The issue of accommodation and covering the cost of accommodation, as well as a comprehensive policy towards refugees are particularly important. That is a policy of welcome, solidarity and acceptance of Ukrainian refugees. That is our duty and we want to do that," he said.

"We will continue to help with all available resources, particularly humanitarian aid. At this time, Croatia is on the right side of history and international law but also on the side of the values enshrined in our Constitution", the PM said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Up to €480 a Month to be Granted for Accommodation of Ukrainian Refugees

ZAGREB, 23 March 2022 - Croatia's government adopted a decision on Wednesday to cover the cost of accommodation for displaced persons from Ukraine, where the government will pay up to HRK 3,600 (€480) a month to property owners providing accommodation for refugees.

During a cabinet meeting, the government decided that the costs would be reimbursed pursuant to a rental contract with the Interior Ministry (Civil Protection Administration) for a period of six months, with the possibility of extending contracts up to one year.

Providers of accommodation will be paid monthly to cover the cost of accommodation and utility bills.

Expenses will be paid in the amount of HRK 50 a day for single persons, families with more members will receive HRK 40 a day for the first person, HRK 30 for a second member, HRK 20 for a third member and HRK 10 a day for each member after that.

Housing units have to have to be of a minimum of 30 square metres for one person and an additional 5m2 for each family member after that.

The premises must include a kitchen and bathroom with a lavatory. It must also be furnished and have the necessary appliances and utility infrastructure.

"The money for this will be ensured from the state budget from the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development", Interior Minister Davor Božinović explained.

The government has authorised the Interior Ministry, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family, and Social Policy and the Civil Protection Administration to implement this decision.

The Interior Ministry will advertise a call on its website, appealing for available premises to be offered to accommodate displaced persons from Ukraine.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

MPs on BiH Election Law, Reconstruction, Latest Findings of Drone Crash Probe

ZAGREB, 23 March 2022 - Independent MP Hrvoje Zekanović said on Wednesday an agreement on the reform of the election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina should be reached "at any cost," warning that the current status quo was detrimental to the Croats in that country.

"I call on Croatian diplomats to get involved as actively as possible in those processes... otherwise the status quo will persist. It suits Serbs to some extent, it definitely suits Bosniaks but it does not suit Croats," he said.

"Croats have been caught in the crossfire of Serb separatism and Bosniak unitarism," he said, pointing the finger at Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegović as the person responsible for the failure of talks on the election reform.

Social Democrat MP: New minister's statements worrying

Davor Bernardić of the Social Democrats warned about "worrying" statements by the new Construction Minister Ivan Paladina that the post-earthquake reconstruction could last six years, that consolidation of public procurement was being considered and that he would insist on a new invitation for applications for the post of director of the Fund for Reconstruction of Zagreb, even though applications have already been invited and candidates who meet the terms have applied.

"The question is why the minister will insist on inviting applications anew", Bernardić said, adding, "Probably because he wants to choose a crony with whom to arrange public procurement."

Bridge MP Miro Bulj commented on unofficial information that there were no traces of explosives on the fragments of a military drone that crashed in Zagreb on 10 March, criticising the government for its conduct in that situation.

"... this is not a situation where you go masquerading as a soldier, this is a time when national security and economy are threatened," he said alluding to Defence Minister Mario Banožić.

Speaking about inflation, Social Democratic Party (SDP) MP Siniša Hajdaš Dončić said that small and medium businesses were receiving information that the price of electricity would be 300-400% higher as of 1 May, with the official inflation rate, measured by the consumer prices index, standing at 6.3% in February, while the perceived inflation was 24%.

Emil Daus of the Istrian Democratic Party and Marijana Puljak of Centre/GLAS called for greater assistance to Ukrainian refugees, who have been arriving in increasing numbers.

Daus warned that there were not enough interpreters and called for activating all available personnel resources, as well as exempting associations that deliver humanitarian aid from paying road tolls, while Puljak called on the Finance Ministry to not collect income tax from persons who provide accommodation to the refugees free of charge.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Grlić Radman: Putin is a War Criminal

ZAGREB, 23 March 2022 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was a war criminal, hopeful that "the Russian autocratic regime" would not last long and claiming that Croatia "would know how to respond" if Russian threats were to become a reality.

Speaking in an interview with Croatian Radio, Grlić Radman said that he did not consider threats by the Russian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor Kalabukhov, as realistic, describing them as a form of intimidation.

A few days ago, Kalabukhov warned that Moscow had the right to respond to Bosnia and Herzegovina's potential membership in NATO, asking the interviewer: "How do you know we do not have plans also against Croatia, Poland and Bulgaria as NATO members?"

In an unlikely scenario of the threats becoming a reality, Croatia "would know how to respond" with its allies, said Grlić Radman.

"The ambassador's threat concerns not only Croatia but the entire EU, and if it were to become a reality, it would activate Article 5" of the North Atlantic Treaty, which says that an armed attack against one member state is considered an armed attack against them all, Grlić Radman said.

"That would cause a new escalation of the conflict, which is in no one's interest and I am certain it will be avoided, and ways would be found to negotiate with the Russian president", the minister said.

He added that Putin "has already committed war crimes, but one must negotiate in war."

Putin will "not have any choice because he has not accomplished what he wanted - to conquer Ukraine," said Grlić Radman.

Regime, people not the same thing

Two months after his official visit to Moscow, where he said that "good relations with Ukraine really do not rule out good relations with Russia," Grlić Radman said that he was referring to the Russian people.

"There is no equal sign between a regime and a people. Peoples stay, policies change. I hope this autocratic regime will not last long," he stressed.

The minister said that the EU had pursued a two-track policy towards Russia, with sanctions as well as an open diplomatic channel with Moscow, and that a number of EU ministers had visited Russia before the invasion of Ukraine to advocate de-escalation.

He said that five Croatian nationals were still in Ukraine, and anyone who wanted to leave the country had done so.

More than 9,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Croatia and the number keeps changing, he said.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Božinović: Higher Influx of Refugees From Ukraine Can be Expected

ZAGREB, 20 March 2022 - Since the start of the war in Ukraine, over 8,300 refugees have arrived in Croatia, and Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Sunday that Europe was braced for the growing pressure on three fronts: energy security, defence costs and accommodation of refugees.

"This is an unprecedented humanitarian issue in Europe. Thousands, tens of thousands of people are leaving Ukraine. We can expect an influx of refugees in all EU member-states, including Croatia", Božinović noted.

"The United Nations' recent projections about up to four million people fleeing Ukraine seems today as a conservative scenario, since the numbers of refugees are already coming close to that figure" the minister told the press after a meeting of the Croatian interdepartmental task force for providing protection for refugees from Ukraine.

"The talks are being conducted at the European level to coordinate the response to many issues stemming from the war in Ukraine", he said adding that one of the issues is how to finance the accommodation of Ukrainian refugees.

Currently, the EU is offering assistance to the countries neighbouring Ukraine that are the first to receive Ukrainians when they leave their homeland.

Croatia is not among those first-stop countries, however, it is one of the countries where Ukrainians seek shelter, and it is ready to take in roughly 20,000 Ukrainians. However, this figure could go up depending on the developments in Ukraine.

Large majority accommodated individually in private homes

"Of those 8,300 refugees, as many as 7,421 are now covered by individual reception initiatives, and 827 are in collective accommodation", said the minister.

The aim is to ensure as many individual accommodation options as possible throughout Croatia.

"The reception centres are operating well, refugees come there upon their arrival and after that they are transferred to properties where they can stay longer", the minister said.

We have published a public call for 10,000 accommodation units throughout Croatia, and all steps we take will be transparent, he said.

Božinović expressed satisfaction with the organisation of the reception of the refugees from Ukraine and explained that the plans were made to be prepared for possible challenges financially, logistics-like and organisationally.

"Croatia wants to provide the best care and sympathy to those people who have experienced the calamities. The help includes not only accommodation and food but also access to education and the labour market as well as to social welfare services", the minister said recalling that the activation of the Temporary Protection Directive.

Economic and Social Council on including refugees in labour market

Božinović said that the possibility of giving refugees access to the labour market would be on the agenda of the Economic and Social Council (GSV) on Monday.

The fast integration of displaced persons is the best way to provide them with a feeling of stability.

Broken down by the age and gender, a mere 12% of the refugees who have arrived in Croatia from Ukraine are men, 48%  are women and children account for 40%, Božinović said.

He also informed the press conference that in the scenario that Croatia should care for 20,000 refugees, this would cost HRK 1.3 billion provided that the refugees exercise all the rights they are entitled to.

According to some estimates, the daily healthcare costs for a refugee is HRK 15, and 30 kuna for education.

Remuneration for the properties which their owners have put at the disposal to refugees is also being considered, and the minister cited the experiences of other countries where the rental per day ranges between €5-8 per person, however, the figure is reduced for every next member in the family accommodated.

Croatian-Ukrainian web portal

The interior ministry has also developed a website with the data in both the Croatian and Ukrainian language concerning the refugees, their rights and entitlements and information for prospective volunteers. The website will be updated regularly on a daily basis.

For more on this, check out our dedicated politics section.

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