Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Availability of Books Helps Integration of Ukrainian Refugees Says Minister

ZAGREB, 19 July 2022 - During the handover of books by Ukrainian authors to the National and University Library (NSK) on Tuesday, Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek said that their availability in Croatian libraries can help refugees from Ukraine to integrate more easily into their new environment.

The handover was held as part of the "Ukrainian books on the shelves of the world's libraries" project, launched at the initiative of the wife of the Ukrainian president, Olena Zelensky.

"This is our contribution to efforts to make the Croatian and Ukrainian people closer to each other in these difficult times and our contribution to help the refugees integrate as easily as possible during their stay in Croatia and to help them with the availability of books," Obuljen Koržinek said.

NSK Director-General Ivanka Stričević said that the books, which were donated to them by the Ukrainian Embassy in Croatia, represent a wealth that will be passed on in future times when the war in Ukraine ends.

"We want to help our libraries respond in the best way to the needs of their users, Ukrainian citizens who find themselves in their environment, and to create the foundations for future cooperation," said the director.

As a sign of solidarity and support for Ukraine, NSK launched a series of activities, including free admission to the Library for Ukrainian refugees over the age of 16 and the publication of three special bibliographies and thematic collections "War in Ukraine."

The purchase and distribution of books by Ukrainian authors in Croatian libraries was initiated jointly by the AidHub foundation together with Croatia's Ministry of Culture and Media in order to help publishers who have found themselves in a difficult situation.

"Our goal is to acquire books by Ukrainian publishers who suffered greatly in these war circumstances. We are also working on an initiative for every Croatian publisher to print at least one book in Ukraine in order to at least help save jobs in that country," said Mišo Nejašmić from AidHub.

In addition to the purchase of books for Ukrainian citizens who took refuge in Croatia AidHub is working on the organisation of a summer camp, where 700 children of different ages will stay, most of whom will be high school graduates. They will spend time in the camp learning the Croatian language.

Ukrainian books are already available in more than 200 libraries, said Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Kyrylych.

"The Ukrainian book is aimed at Ukrainians who have the urge to read. The book is the depth of the sea, it is alive if it is read," said the ambassador.

This is not the first such donation in Croatia, as books by Ukrainian authors were donated to public libraries across the country at the end of June.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Monday, 13 June 2022

Croatian and Ukrainian Children Participate in Savudrija Bay Seabed Cleanup

ZAGREB, 13 June 2022 - Over 60 children from Ukraine and from Zagreb and the quake-hit areas of Banovina took part in an environmental drive called "Cleaning Without Borders" to remove underwater waste in Savudrija Bay on Saturday and Sunday.

The children joined forces with divers from Croatia and Slovenia in this campaign.

The main objective of the drive is to clear the sea bed of waste as well as to draw attention to the global problem of sea pollution and raise public awareness of the importance of preserving the flora and fauna of the Adriatic Sea.

It is very important that children get into the habit of helping to preserve the sea environment, Economy and Sustainable Development Ministry State Secretary Mario Šiljeg said.

The campaign lasted several days, and the children were accommodated in the Veli Jože camp where educational workshops were also organized.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Status of Ukrainians in Croatia Who Are Not Refugees to be Protected

June the 8th, 2022 - While there have been thousands of Ukrainian refugees enter Croatia since the Russian invasion of their country back in February this year, there are plenty of Ukrainians in Croatia who have been living and working seasonal jobs here since before the outbreak of war. Their status in the country, while different to that of refugees, is set to be clarified and fully protected.

As Morski writes, in accordance with the European Union (EU) directive, about 12,500 Ukrainian citizens have so far applied for and received temporary protection status in the Republic of Croatia. However, some Ukrainians, who have been living in Croatia for various reasons since last year, aren't entitled to this status.

Returning home to Ukraine is also not at all a solution for any of those individuals at this moment in time and it would be a travesty to push any Ukrainians in Croatia to make such a move. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) has made it very clear, all Ukrainians living in Croatia who want to secure their status - will be able to do so and will have their various situations solved.

Twenty-three-year-old Ukrainian Vita Perestiuk found a seasonal job in Zadar last summer, and she decided to stay in Croatia after the tourist season ended.

''I found a job in Istria, in agriculture, working in the vineyards. I was working there and then the war started, so my family came to Croatia, down to Dubrovnik. I finished my work and then I went down to them in Dubrovnik,'' Perestiuk explained to HRT. The right to international temporary protection, by decision of the Croatian Government, can be exercised only by Ukrainian citizens who came to Croatia after the 1st of January, 2022.

Vita, therefore, like approximately 40 other Ukrainians in Croatia, asked to be granted a residence permit for humanitarian reasons. They waited two months for a solution from MUP, biting their nails.

''We didn't know anything, we called them every three days, asked them this and that... That's why we're very happy to have received this status. Now we can go to work, we can live normally,'' said Vita Perestiuk.

''These persons don't enjoy the same rights as Ukrainians who came here fleeing the war enjoy, except the right to residence, of course, and the right to work, they can work, but they don't enjoy, for example, the right to free healthcare, social protection, the right to free housing and the like,'' explained Zarko Katic, state Secretary for Immigration, Citizenship and Administrative Affairs in the Ministry of the Interior.

About 2,700 Ukrainians in Croatia don't have the right to temporary protection, and they are in Croatia mainly for work.

''Each of them will need to regulate their status here either according to the Law on International and Temporary Protection, or according to the Law on Foreigners, either on the basis of work, family reunification, study, or on the basis of residence as a digital nomad,'' explained Katic.

The Croatian Government has firmly stated announces no Ukrainians in Croatia will be forcibly returned to their homeland, even if that means additional changes to the law.

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

Thursday, 28 April 2022

15,879 Displaced Persons From Ukraine Enter Croatia To Date

ZAGREB, 28 April 2022 - Since the start of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, a total of 15,879 displaced persons have entered Croatia, including 215 unaccompanied children, state secretaries told a thematic meeting of the parliamentary Gender Equality Committee on Thursday.

The meeting dealt with the reception, needs and treatment of Ukrainian refugees, most of whom are women and children as exceptionally vulnerable groups with specific needs. Croatia has the capacity to receive more refugees and displaced persons from Ukraine than the initial estimate of 20,000, it was said.

The state secretary for immigration, citizenship and administration at the Ministry of the Interior (MUP), Žarko Katić, recalled that MUP was resolving the status of Ukrainian refugees and approving temporary protection. The Civil Protection Directorate has provided accommodation for refugees in 40 accommodation units and three reception centres in Varaždin, Osijek and Gospić, he said.

A total of 1,766 people are staying in collective accommodation throughout Croatia. MUP has engaged about ten interpreters to assist police.

About 600 people have registered to provide accommodation for displaced Ukrainians and their premises have been examined and determined as appropriate and safe for these people to prevent any possible wrongdoing to their detriment, said Katić.

MUP: No incidents of people smuggling reported as yet

Katić said that MUP has not identified any case of people smuggling or sexual abuse or abuse of children among Ukrainian refugees. He underscored that inspections are being conducted regularly at places where refugees are received and accommodated, particularly those providing accommodation for vulnerable groups, and that MUP acts on any possible reports.

"The most vulnerable are unaccompanied minors who have been accommodated in hotels in Zagreb and Split, where about 90 young Ukrainian football players from the Shakhtar club have been accommodated as have young yachting competitors while about 24 minors have been placed in a dormitory in Zadar, " he said.

He added that to date ID cards have been issued to 10,016 displaced persons from Ukraine while the others are still considering whether they wish to apply for temporary protection, which enables them to exercise all rights in Croatia, including employment.

So far 600 Ukrainian citizens have found jobs through HZZ

The state secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy, Dragan Jelić, recalled that all displaced persons are eligible for a one-off allowance of up to HRK 3,500 per family and up to 2,500 for singles and that so far 1,400 such allowances have been paid out. Unemployed displaced persons are entitled to HRK 1,000 a month, Jelić recalled.

Currently, we have 215 children without a parental legal representative in the system and most of them have come with trusted people who are being checked by social welfare centres which also appoint guardians for unaccompanied children. Persons with disabilities have been provided with accommodation as well, he recalled.

Jelić said that 650 Ukrainian nationals had found jobs through the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) and about 500 requests have been registered from employers seeking workers.

He added that 545 Ukrainian citizens are currently looking for work and more than half of them have university qualifications.

1,291 Ukrainian students included in the Croatian education system

The state secretary at the Ministry of Science and Education, Tomislav Paljak, said that since the war started in Ukraine 1,291 students from Ukraine have been included in Croatia's education system in 434 schools.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 18 April 2022

Šimonović Einwalter: System Must Change After the Verdict On Madina's Death

April 18, 2022 - Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter believes that, after the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that holds the Croatian government responsible for the death of little Madina Hosseini, the system must be changed to one that guarantees the security and respect for the human rights of the refugees who enter to Croatia. She points out, in relation to the current situation in Ukraine, that she would like a future response from the EU to be the same for all those escaping the horrors of war.

Ombudswoman Tena Šimonovic Einwalter said in an interview with Hina that, following the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the death of Madina Hosseini, it is important to change the system because ''as a state we want to respect human rights. This is the complete opposite of what Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the Croatian representative in the Strasbourg court, Štefica Stažnik, claim''. Namely, they both assure that this is not a systemic problem, because Croatia has not been declared responsible for the death of little Madina, but for an ineffective investigation into her death.

The six-year-old girl, Madina Hosseini was killed in November 2017 when she was hit by a train on the Croatian-Serbian border after her family had allegedly been denied the opportunity to seek asylum by Croatian authorities and were ordered to return to Serbia via the tracks.

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Madina Hosseini (Photo: Family album)

The ECtHR confirmed that in Madina's case, Croatia had violated rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. As stated in the verdict, Madina's right to life, humiliated her family's children by keeping them in custody, illegally deprived the whole family of their liberty, and collectively expelled part of the family from Croatia and denied them access to a lawyer.

Why is this verdict significant?

In an interview with Hina, Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter commented on the significance of the verdict itself and the moves that Croatia needs to make in order to execute the verdict of that court.

Speaking about the human rights situation, Šimonović Einwalter announced that, in addition to the annual report already published, she would soon present a special report to the Croatian Parliament on the impact of the epidemic in the last two years on human rights and equality.

HINA: The ECtHR passed a verdict deciding in this particular case, but can it be said that it also said that Croatia is systematically violating the rights of refugees at the borders?

ŠIMONOVIC EINWALTER: It is difficult for the ECHR to say that in that way, in those words. This verdict addresses the issue of the treatment of Madina's family, in this specific situation. But the court also says that the case "raises several important issues about migration control by the Croatian authorities" and that "the impact of this case goes beyond the special situation of the family". The court also took into account a number of earlier allegations of violations of migrants' rights.

Some sentences from the decision, it seems to me, therefore indicate that the impact of the case goes beyond this particular family situation and I think it is good to read it that way if we want changes. It is important to carefully analyze and seriously implement this court decision and change the system because as a state we want to respect national law, European law, international law, and human rights. Is there the will to do it? I really hope so.

HINA: The court found that the convention had been violated because the police at the border did not assess the individual situation of the refugee family before they were deported to Serbia. It did not accept the state's argument that the refugee family was crossing the border illegally. What does this mean now, since the beginning of that refugee crisis, it has been persistently emphasized that we are "defending" ourselves at the borders from those who break the law by crossing them?

ŠIMONOVIĆ EINWALTER: In fact, the legal situation was clear even before this decision. It is often pointed out that the police should guard the border, that illegal crossing of the state border is prohibited, and that is exactly what the law says. At the same time, it is legally defined that persons have the right to seek international protection, regardless of the manner of entry into the country. Therefore, there must be an individualized procedure. It includes, because of the risk of violating international law, the possibility that people who are in a specific situation because of fleeing war and exposure to practices such as torture or the death penalty in their countries of origin have the right to seek international protection. It is also needed by people who are victims of human trafficking, rape, or severe violence.

You can't know if that person will have the right to asylum without conducting a procedure - to ask who that person is, where he is fleeing from and why, it is not written on anyone's forehead. As a first contact, officials should try to identify vulnerable people who may want to apply for international protection.

This is a matter of individualized approach, where special vulnerability is sometimes visible at first, for example in children or unaccompanied children, and the best interests of the child must take precedence.

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Tena Šimonović Einwalter (Photo: Zeljko Hladika/PIXSELL)

HINA: In the next six months, Croatia must conduct an effective investigation into Madina's death, but also draw up an action plan to eliminate the violations identified by the court. Will this change the situation and the protocol for treating refugees?

ŠIMONOVIĆ EINWALTER: Within six months, but maybe earlier, the Office of the Representative of the Republic of Croatia before the ECtHR must adopt an action plan. In this regard, through a body in which representatives of various institutions participate, we can also give expert opinions and proposals, and it includes ministries, courts, the Constitutional Court, and others. The point of the ECtHR judgments is justice for individuals, but also to change the practice, if necessary the laws, in order to respect the legal standards of human rights protection. It can also be a question of, for example, how to conduct an effective investigation, which was an important issue in this case. We have also heard that Minister Davor Božinović has publicly stated that the responsibility in such cases is on the system and that we need to see what are the things that can and should be corrected.

HINA: Has the Ukrainian crisis shown that those fleeing the war can be treated differently?

ŠIMONOVIĆ EINWALTER: We are currently witnessing great solidarity of citizens towards Ukrainians, but I would like to remind you that we saw this solidarity of citizens in 2015 as well - and then many were ready to help. However, now the European Union has reacted differently than in 2015. The Temporary Protection Directive existed even then, and could theoretically be activated. It is a political decision at the EU level.

With the recent activation of the directive, IDPs from Ukraine have a much simpler and faster procedure. What can be discussed is whether it should have been activated in the past. Could it have been any different for some other people fleeing another war? I believe that a new level of solidarity and assistance to refugees is now being seen. In an ideal world, I would like to see Europe respond in this way to all refugees fleeing the horrors of war.

HINA: Your report makes recommendations on how to address the shortcomings you have identified in the implementation of human rights. Judging by the number, a total of 156 recommendations, a lot of work, what needs to be worked on the most?

ŠIMONOVIĆ EINWALTER: There are many problems, and I would like to point out the problems of access to health care and health services, the need for stronger support and protection of senior citizens, the issue of access to information for citizens regarding rights, and how to exercise them. It is necessary to ensure that the institutions suit them, that the procedures do not take too long, that they are less formalistic, and that their work shows the understanding that they are there for the citizens, to provide them with an easier way to exercise their rights. In some areas, the problems are long-lasting, I have been working in this institution for 14 years and changes are happening slowly.

We also point out systemic problems analytically and comprehensively. What I am always happy about are the improvements, and of course, there are some, especially when fulfilling some of our recommendations, either in an individual case or these systematic ones from the annual report, lead to a higher level of rights for citizens. That is the point of these recommendations. From the Report for 2020, 43 percent of the recommendations were implemented, which is a big jump compared to 2019, when 20 percent of them were implemented. I hope this trend continues.

HINA: In times of insecurity, the most socially vulnerable groups are particularly hard hit. How should the state act on this?

ŠIMONOVIĆ EINWALTER: Those who have been ill before always suffer the most. It will be the same now - it is the poorer senior citizens, but also those who live near the poverty line. Single-parent families and those with three or more children are in a difficult position.

Government measures to alleviate the situation are welcome, but they will certainly not remove all concerns from citizens. It is important to monitor at the state level whether the measures should be corrected, with special attention to the impact on those who find it particularly difficult, and we will monitor this as well.

HINA: A large number of complaints were related to the use of covid certificates and vaccinations. How has the epidemic affected equality and human rights in Croatia?

SIMONOVIC EINWALTER: We have been through a lot in these two years. The epidemic is still actually going on, so while many of us are feeling relieved, no one knows what will happen in the fall. These experiences should be used to learn and strengthen the key sectors: health, social, education, and civil protection. We are currently finalizing a special report on the impact of the epidemic on human rights and equality in those two years, which we will soon submit to Parliament. The purpose of this report is to see what the effects of the epidemic are and how to manage it. It has changed our lives and we need to see what can be done better and differently.

That is why we analyze the impact on certain human rights and certain groups of citizens because some have fared worse. These are the elderly, but they are not the only ones. There is also the impact of poverty and the availability of different services. The fact is that not everyone could be vaccinated, for health reasons, and at the same time, we had the question of the availability of testing, which was not the same for everyone. There are also lessons about informing citizens, given the fake news and misinformation. We will include all of this in the recommendations, and I hope that this report will be the basis for positive progress towards strengthening the resilience of society in the future, to the epidemic, but also to other possible crises.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Two Retired Ukrainian Artists Choose Croatia Over UK, Make Vir Home

April the 3rd, 2022 - Two retired Ukrainian artists were living their normal lives in the Lviv region of their homeland until the Russian invasion, and in that short period everything changed from them, seeing them relocate from the climes of a grey Ukrainian winter to the mild and sunny Croatian island of Vir.

As Morski/Kazimir Skrbic writes, just several days ago, retired Ukrainian artists Lyudmila and Mikhail Rymik were living their normal lives in the familiar ambience of their home in the immediate vicinity of Stryi, a city of about sixty thousand inhabitants located in western Ukraine in the Lviv region.

It was life as normal until early March when the first smell of gunpowder from eastern Ukraine began to spread further out, reaching more western Ukrainian areas. 68-year-old Mihajlo, a retired builder, gardener and amateur painter, and his wife, Lyudmila, also an artist, made the difficult decision to leave. Mihajlo packed up his van with only some basic hygiene items and his trusty art supplies. They left their two cats and one dog in the care of their diligent neighbours and headed first to Poland, in anticipation of the greatest adventure of their lives.

''When we set off we didn’t really know where we were going. But we wanted to save our pictures and make it to Croatia, where we intended to get in touch with Marica and Mijat Barisic, whom I met in Ukraine three years ago. I only knew that they lived on the island of Vir, but I thought it was good to have someone to go to. Marica's mobile contact from the business card she left me, I called unsuccessfully because I overlooked the fact that you need to put in the area code for Croatia,'' stated Mihajlo. Their long trip through Poland, Slovakia and Hungary took them a full two weeks, and then Mihajlo and Lyudmila, after arriving in the City of Zagreb, managed to establish contact with some friends of Marica and Mijat from Vir.

''Mihajlo's friend asked me if Mihajlo and Lyudmila from Ukraine could come to us. I couldn't immediately remember who they were, because I hadn't actually met Lyudmila, but then I remembered Mihajlo, with whom we hung out when my husband and I were staying in Ukraine. Mihajlo played the guitar in a castle at a gathering organised by our Association of Ukrainian-Croatian Friendship. If you're ever in Croatia, I told him then, stop by Vir,'' said Marica, remembering how one informal invitation had become fateful.

Without thinking, the pair opened their hearts and provided accommodation to the Rymiks, and Mihajlo and Lyudmila have been Vir residents with an address in the Miljkovica settlement for two weeks now. The idyllic landscape of their Ukrainian village has quickly been replaced by being on the deeply desired first row to the sea.

''It's beautiful on the island,'' said Mihajlo, for whom the blue azure of the sea was the current inspiration for the first painting - the Vir motif. The two talented Ukrainian artists arranged the paintings they'd manage to bring with them, as well as their art and painting accessories, all of which can be found on the mezzanine stairs of the family house of their friends.

In addition to the Barisic family, other Vir locals also readily helped out, and their dilapidated and broken-down van, with which they barely reached Vir, was serviced and repaired free of charge by the well-known Vir car mechanic Zivko Vucetic, and now Mihajlo and Lyudmila can drive to Zadar to visit MUP and complete the formalities regarding their current status and stay in Croatia.

In the meantime, the pair of Ukrainian artists have been offering their paintings of larger and smaller dimensions - inspired by Crimea, the Ukrainian countryside, the natural environment, but also the French masters of Impressionism - to Zadar galleries and locals. In order to make some money, Mihajlo is ready, he says, to work doing building again as a master mason, and during the summer season, both of them will try to offer their painting skills to tourists on the beaches.

''I'm willing to do anything to make the situation we're in at least a little bit easier. We're immensely grateful to Marica and Mijat for their hospitality, but we'd like to earn our own money and be independent. I hope we'll be able to make a living from selling our paintings,'' said an optimistic Mihajlo.

Instead of living with family in England, they ended up on Vir

''I suffer with some thyroid problems, so the coastal environment will be pleasant for my slightly impaired health due to the iodine and salt. As we'll definitely stay here on Vir until the end of the summer, we'd like our British family to visit us. We have two daughters who live in England with their families,'' said Lyudmila, explaining why the Ukrainian artists didn't go to England to be with their daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren, but instead chose to go on an adventure which saw them end up on a Croatian island.

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

Friday, 1 April 2022

11,590 Ukrainian Refugees Arrive in Croatia to Date

ZAGREB, 1 April (2022) - A total of 11,590 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Croatia to date, including 202 in the last 24 hours, and all have been provided with the necessary care, the head of the Civil Protection Directorate, Damir Trut, said on Friday.

Speaking to the press after meeting with Osijek-County prefect Ivan Anušić and representatives of the County Civil Protection Service, Trut said that about 1,000 refugees have been accommodated in the eastern Slavonia region.

The executive director of the Croatian Red Cross, Robert Markt, said that this organisation was providing refugees with humanitarian aid and psychosocial support, helping them with family reunions and passing information between separated families. He said that Red Cross staff were visiting refugees staying in private accommodation on a weekly basis and those in collective accommodation on a daily basis.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Friday, 1 April 2022

Property Owners Can Now Create a Ukraine Refugee Rate Through Booking.com

April 1, 2022 - As a support measure for those who have fled Ukraine due to the Russian invasion, Booking.com has enabled the Ukraine Refugee Rate, a special rate that allows its partners to offer accommodations for free or at a significantly lower price to Ukrainian refugees.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24 this year, has forced more than 4 million Ukrainian citizens to leave their homes and cross borders to seek asylum in neighboring countries. The majority of refugees are women and children, who have found a very warm reception at the borders of countries like Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova, and more. As of March 30, 11,200 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Croatia. Although many have had to stay temporarily in refugee centers in different parts of the country, there are those who are looking for alternative accommodation such as apartments and hotels.

In order to make it easier for refugees from Ukraine to find accommodation in the country where they are, as well as to allow property owners a way to help them, the company Booking.com has made available to all those who rent their properties on their platform the Ukraine Refugee Rate option. Thus, the accommodations can now create a special rate, exclusive for Ukrainian refugees, that allows property owners to offer accommodation for free or at a significantly lower price to them.

''We want to work together to help refugees from Ukraine find a place to stay via our platform'', reads the email sent by Booking.com. ''If you’re able to help, you can now create a Ukraine Refugee Rate to support people in need. This special rate allows you to offer accommodations for free or at a significantly lower price''. Additionally, Booking.com points out that they will waive commission for these stays.

Among the conditions to apply this special rate, Booking.com indicates the following:

''We appreciate any support that you’re able to offer. We want to make this process as smooth as possible for you and the people you’re helping:

The Ukraine Refugee Rate is only available to people leaving Ukraine who make a last-minute booking (0–3 days before check-in). This condition is designed to help you better manage the number of rooms you can commit to this effort.

Given the challenging circumstances people leaving Ukraine are facing, the Ukraine Refugee Rate will offer them control and flexibility, allowing them to cancel for free anytime''.

Booking.com has also prepared a FAQ article with more details about the Ukraine Refugee Rate, in order to clear doubts about this special rate for both Ukrainian citizens and property owners.

Which partners can offer a special rate to refugees from Ukraine?

At the moment, partners in the following countries can create this rate: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

The special rate currently applies for bookings and stays until June 30, 2022.

Who can book a stay using this rate?

This special rate enables partners to offer people leaving Ukraine a place to stay for free or at a significantly reduced rate. When your guests arrive, we recommend that you ask them for some form of identification document to confirm that the rate was booked by eligible guests.

Bear in mind that people may have had to leave their homes with little time to prepare. We recommend that you accept passports, ID cards, or any other form of documentation that shows your guests were residing in Ukraine.

You can cancel reservations within reason should you find that this rate wasn’t booked by eligible guests.

Rate details and cancellation policies

Given the incredibly challenging circumstances people leaving Ukraine are facing, you can only use the Ukraine Refugee Rate in conjunction with Fully Flexible rates. This allows the people you’re helping to have as much control and flexibility over their booking as possible. They’ll be able to cancel anytime without charges. If you haven’t already set up a Fully Flexible rate for your property, do this before creating a Ukraine Refugee Rate.

When you create this rate, you can choose to either:

  • Offer a discount of between 50% and 99% on your usual rates, or
  • Offer accommodations for free. In this case, for technical reasons we’ll display the price of the room or unit as EUR 0.01 (before any taxes and fees) or the equivalent in your local currency, but your guests won’t need to pay anything.

If taxes or other fees apply to the booking based on relevant laws and regulations in your country, handle these as you normally would since they're beyond our control. However, we do encourage that you waive any additional booking-related fees, such as cleaning fees.

How the reservation process works

This rate currently applies for bookings and stays until June 30, 2022. Last-minute bookings can be made from zero to three days before check-in, and for stays of up to 30 days. This condition is designed to help prevent double-bookings at your property and to ensure space for those who need it.

To best support these guests, we encourage you to collect payment (where applicable) during check-in using a pay at property policy. If that's not possible, we'll support payment options for you. Because you can only use the Ukraine Refugee Rate in conjunction with Fully Flexible rates, these guests will be able to cancel anytime without charges or no-show fees. Of course, Booking.com will waive our commission fee for these reservations.

Creating this rate

If your property is eligible to create a Ukraine Refugee Rate and you’d like to offer people leaving Ukraine a place to stay, here’s how to get started:

  1. Log in to the Extranet
  2. Click Promotions
  3. In the Humanitarian aid section, click Assist next to Ukraine Refugee Rate
  4. Select whether you’d like to offer a percentage discount on your usual rates or offer accommodation for free
  5. If you choose to offer a percentage discount, enter a percentage between 50% and 99%
  6. Select the rate plans and rooms or units you’d like the rate to apply to
  7. Click Review
  8. Review the details you’ve entered, then click Activate

Canceling ineligible bookings

If a guest books the Ukraine Refugee Rate but isn’t eligible for it, you’ll need to cancel the reservation. You can do so by sending the guest a cancellation request with a note explaining that you believe the booking was made in error. Alternatively, you can contact our Customer Service team who will support you with the cancellation process.

Rent A Local Croatia has prepared a very helpful guide for Ukrainian citizens seeking asylum in Croatia. You can read it HERE.

For more on the Ukraine crisis and Croatia, as well as breaking news, follow our news section.

For more, check out our business section.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Speak Startup to Facilitate Croatian Language Learning for Ukraine Refugees

March the 30th, 2022 - The European Speak startup from Portugal is set to help the Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in the country with Croatian language learning.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the European startup Speak, founded in Portugal to support the social inclusion of migrants and refugees, has launched the international platform "SPEAK For Ukraine" for the integration of refugees from Ukraine across Europe.

The platform connects refugees, volunteers and organisations with the aim of integrating Ukrainian refugees as quickly as possible, including offering emotional support groups and the framework for learning local languages, this includes Croatian language learning.

It is a company which, since its founding back in 2014, has created a community of more than 50,000 people across 23 cities, including more than 500 Ukrainians across Europe, and "SPEAK For Ukraine" was launched on March the 12th, a mere 16 days after the war in Ukraine broke out, in cooperation with the Representation of the European Commission in Portugal.

Free and easy access

This platform connects volunteers with organisations and people who need support to break down the language barriers and create an informal help network, and in the first days alone, hundreds of applications were registered through it from more than 60 cities around the world.

The platform can also be used by volunteers and refugees in Croatia, where there are currently about 9,000 displaced people from Ukraine. According to Speak, the platform will allow refugees from Ukraine to have free and easy access to language groups, where they can learn the language of their host country, as well as emotional support groups, to help them and their families integrate into their new communities.

The platform allows volunteers to organise language learning groups, translation and interpretation services from Ukrainian or Russian into many other languages, and helps various organisations to guide refugees.

''Through "SPEAK for Ukraine" we want to complement the work that Speak is already developing with the aim of integrating refugees and migrants on the issue of language barriers in different cities around the world. With this platform, we've created a solution for integration not only at the individual level, but also at the family level. In this way, we guarantee families that they can overcome language barriers and build an informal support network in their host country, by expanding our community to countries where Speak is not yet actively present.

At the same time, we're striving to ensure that organisations across Europe working with refugees at SPEAK For Ukraine find all the language and integration support they need,'' says Hugo Menino Aguiar, the co-founder and CEO of Speak.

A concrete opportunity

In addition to the language barrier, SPEAK For Ukraine also responds to more urgent communication needs, by activating an international network of translators and interpreters, and the needs of psychological support for those who have fled the war in Ukraine.

Sofia Moreira de Sousa, Head of the EC Delegation to Portugal, emphasises that learning the local language, developing personal relationships and creating a support network are key to true integration.

"It simply came to our notice. The European Commission is working relentlessly on several fronts to stop this terrible war, deal with its consequences and protect those seeking refuge in the EU. Cooperation with SPEAK For Ukraine gives us a concrete opportunity to volunteer and an opportunity to support people who are starting from scratch," said Moreira de Sousa.

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Monday, 28 March 2022

Red Cross Croatia Says Has Raised HRK 1.8M for Ukrainian Refugees

28 March 2022 - Red Cross Croatia said on Monday that it had raised more than HRK 1.8 million for Ukrainian refugees staying in Croatia to procure goods other than standard humanitarian aid, such as medical food, bed linen, footwear and the like, and which is currently received by 3,279 refugees.

The appeal for assistance to Ukrainian refugees is still underway and everyone wishing to help can do so by making a payment into the following drawing account:

IBAN: HR0923600001503056530
Authorisation code: 705
Bank: Zagrebačka banka d.d., Zagreb, Trg bana J. Jelačića 10
Recipient: Hrvatski Crveni križ, Ulica Crvenog križa 14-16, Zagreb
For payments from abroad: BIC (SWIFT) code: ZABAHR2XXXX

Donations may also be made via mobile banking applications by using the 2D barcode as well as by dialling the donation number 060 9011.

HCK notes that it continues to collect material donations and that anyone wishing to make a donation can find the list of goods for donation at www.hck.hr.

So far, 6,187 Ukrainians have approached the Red Cross search service to help them re-establish contact with their family members.  

Red Cross aid in the form of food, hygiene and children's products is currently received by 3,279 persons, that is, all the persons who have sought it.

Red Cross also provides psychosocial support to the refugees, as well as help with integration, school enrollment, health protection, language learning, etc. 

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