Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Sunday that more than 8,300 refugees from Ukraine had arrived in Croatia so far, but that the worst phase of the war was yet to come, expecting increased pressure on Europe on three main fronts - energy security, defense spending and refugee reception.
“The UN plans, which until recently were projected at four million refugees from Ukraine, today seem quite conservative because we are approaching that number,” Davor Božinović told reporters after a meeting of the Interdepartmental Working Group for the Reception and Care of Refugees from Ukraine.
He argued that Europe is facing a humanitarian issue ‘par excellence’ as tens of thousands of people are leaving Ukraine and the Russian military is surrounding cities. We can expect an increased number of arrivals in all EU member states, including Croatia.
Bilingual website launched
As the coordinating body of the Interdepartmental Group, the Ministry presented a bilingual website that will publish daily data of interest to the Croatian public - from volunteering to accommodation, while Ukrainian citizens will be able to find out about their rights, such as health and social care, education and employment.
Božinović said coordinated efforts to address a number of issues would be discussed at the European level, one of which was funding refugee reception, with the EU considering various options.
“The EU is now providing assistance to countries of first entry, not including Croatia, but it is among the countries where displaced persons come and which can be counted on to stay there for a long time. At the Croatian level, they are trying to project the financial framework,” said Božinović, reiterating that they are ready to receive 20,000 people, but this may increase depending on developments in Ukraine.
Currently, there are 7,421 people in individual accommodation, while there are 827 in collective accommodation. The goal is to have as many people as possible accommodated individually throughout Croatia.
Recently, the number of people in collective accommodation has been increasing, and as far as reception centers are concerned, things are functioning as they did on the first day, because refugees stay there for a short time and are sent to facilities for more permanent accommodation.
When it comes to collective accommodation, they have announced public calls for about 10,000 accommodation units throughout Croatia, and all information about what the state has organized will be available to the public.
Božinović said that Croatia can so far be satisfied with the organization of refugee reception, from the very beginning it is taking several steps forward and wants to anticipate all possible situations in order to be organizationally, financially and logistically ready for all challenges.
Also, Ukrainian people who are going through extremely difficult times this week should be taken care of in Croatia in a way that shows the empathy of Croatian people towards war victims.
On Monday, the Social Economic Council will meet to discuss possibilities of enter the labor market
This includes not only accommodation and food, but also the activation of the school and health care system, the social welfare system and the possibility entering the labor market.
That is why a session of the Social Economic Council will be held on Monday, dedicated to the inclusion of displaced persons in the labor market, given that rapid integration is the best way to stabilize such persons.
“Among the refugees only 12 percent are men, 48 percent are women and 40 percent children,” said Božinović, adding that their first reflex was to take care of children in preschools and schools, which is currently going smoothly.
He announced that amendments to the Social Welfare Act were being prepared, which would enable persons with temporary protection the right to a minimum benefit, and that they should receive 2,500 kuna in one-time assistance.
Božinović estimated that most Ukrainians are likely to stay in Croatia, and if Croatia received the planned 20,000 refugees, the cost of caring for them would be at 1.3 billion kuna if they exercise all their rights.
According to projections, the daily costs of health care for a refugee are 15 kuna, and education costs 30 kuna, so it is important that refugees are integrated as soon as possible.
Regarding benefits to citizens who have given private spaces to refugees, such as flats and apartments, he said they follow the experiences of other countries, ranging from five to eight euros a day in compensation, which in the case of families decreases for each person.
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