FORUM-„Sustainability of the RHP / Regional Housing Programme – Contribution of the CARE project: achievements and challenges – experience of Croatia”

(November 11, 2020)


  • Project “CARE” – Contribution to the Access of Refugees and IDPs to Rights and Employment Opportunities” in Croatia was recognized by the forum participants as important and useful as part of other efforts and measures being implemented in the country.
  • The conclusion that full and quality cooperation was achieved within the projects was emphasized between relevant actors from the public and civil sector: the Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing, UNHCR, Serbian National Council, CSOs, Civil Rights Project Sisak and others.
  • Project “CARE” in Croatia was seen as a project that provided continuity of dealing with the topic of refugees and returnees, as a continuation of all that civil society organizations have been doing for the last 25 years in Croatia, especially in the field of the status of persons and families who fled to the countries of the region (Serbia, Montenegro and BiH).
  • The Forum highlighted the views of civil society representatives that the relationship of the Croatian state and political rhetoric used in relation to the question of the position of refugees / returnees improved, but to change the overall climate and atmosphere it takes much more than the commitment of civil society activists and the position of Serb returnees is still full of challenges. The refugee-return path of some families lasted 25 years, which was presented at the Forum as an example that illustrates the complexity of the issue of return – as well as time, administrative and political difficulties that often follow.
  • Despite the significant percentage of families of returnees who are provided with housing from funds of the Republic of Croatia and from the EU, the issue of allocating apartments is still an actual topic for a number of families whose tenancy rights have been confirmed, because according to information from a representative of the Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing care, the State lacks funding to fully meet its obligations.
  • According to the opinion expressed at the Forum, there are many other life challenges that returnees have to deal with. One group of problems relates to family poverty from rural areas that cannot provide children with higher education and it is proposed to provide assistance in schooling by the state or by using other means. Prominent there are also problems of proportional employment in local governments, which is not fully respected. Also, according to the forum participants, more attention is needed for the issue of lack of communal infrastructure (electricity and water) on some localities where returnees live.
  •  It is especially emphasized that all measures, projects and interventions that are planned and implemented according to Serb returnees, should be conducted in co-operation with the Serbian National Council as an institutional structure that knows the problems and represents the interests these social groups.
  • The Regional Housing Programme (RHP) was rated as excellent, but emphasized that it started very late (many years after the war), although the idea was launched much earlier, but then it did not find full understanding. The RHP in Croatia lasted a short time and was practically interrupted by Croatia’s entry into the EU, so they had to seek alternative solutions and funding, which has greatly aggravated and prolonged implementation of necessary measures.
  • Legal aid services provided by the civil sector (PGP-Civil Rights Project) and which were also part of the “CARE” project were assessed as very important for solving regional issue of refugees and their return to Croatia. Those services are further required in the field of Croatia. On the other hand, it is emphasized that through the previous project activities (through mapping the status of refugees from Croatia who are in Serbia and Montenegro it was concluded that they lost all links with their home country after three decades, which implies a potentially different approach and obligations of the home country towards their care on the basis of the former occupancy right holder.