The residents of Sisak-Moslavina County, especially the area of Banija, will remember 2020 as a very difficult year. Just when the citizens, as much as they could, got used to the restrictions due to the COVID19 epidemic, at the end of December 2020, a series of strong earthquakes, with the strongest devastating 29 December 2020, hit Banija – poor and ethnically one of the most mixed areas of Croatia. That tragedy actually had to draw attention to those poor and abandoned people because in that area, even without natural disasters, everything is actually catastrophic. The same area is only 45 kilometres away from Zagreb, and it seems to be at the end of the world….
In all this tragedy and general madness, the Civil Rights Project Sisak (CRP Sisak) got involved in providing assistance and support to earthquake victims through field trips to the victims, distributing humanitarian aid and providing legal aid via the free legal phone 0800 200 098, office counselling and two times a month by providing legal assistance in Petrinja and Glina just after the earthquake.
From 1 July 2021 to 31 December 2021, CRP Sisak is implementing the project “Platform 044-Together for a better future of Sisak-Moslavina County”, which is implemented with the support of the SOLIDARNA Foundation-Foundation for Human Rights and Solidarity, and monitors the situation and problems arising from natural disasters in the area of Sisak-Moslavina County, with an emphasis on Sisak, Petrinja and Glina. Various cases, which we come across, are united by the common desire of citizens to renovate their apartments and houses and return to their homes.
In the container settlement “Centre of New Life” in Petrinja, we noticed the problem of the co-owner of a residential building at the address in Petrinja, Gajeva 1a, which was removed due to earthquake damage. By removing the same building in April 2021, the co-owners thought that something had changed in solving their problems, but even after the removal, the co-owners of the same building have no further knowledge about the construction of the building, so their fate is to remain in the container settlement “indefinitely”. These are mostly elderly and sick people, for whom container accommodation is not a permanent solution, and for the co-owners of the same building we turned to several addresses of state institutions, including the building manager, asking for information on further treatment, but we did not find any understanding.
The co-owners of the residential building in Petrinja, Turkulinova 15, which received a red mark due to the earthquake damage, have a similar problem, and for which building a study for removal was prepared in July 2021. The co-owners do not know the further course of this procedure. They received only brief information from the tenants’ representatives that the building would be repaired, not removed and the building built. We also asked for a statement from the relevant authorities, primarily the managers of the apartment building, but they did not provide any specific information, except that the co-owners can contact them on a daily basis.
In Glina, in addition to providing legal assistance in resolving property relations in order to submit requests for the reconstruction of damaged houses, we also recorded cases of rented state-owned houses – allocated through the housing program, and their users are powerless to renovate these facilities. Regarding the same, we addressed the Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing several times, but we did not receive a concrete answer to the same inquiry, except that the inquiry was forwarded to the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property.
Although the Act on Amendments to the Act on Reconstruction of Buildings Damaged by Earthquakes in the City of Zagreb, Krapina-Zagorje, Zagreb County, Sisak-Moslavina County and Karlovac County was passed, which entered into force on 30 October 2021, not a single building was renovated by the state, which we consider a great negligence and lack of the state action.
Only the construction of houses with donations from foreign and domestic donors, from donations from the SOLIDARNA Foundation and other donors, which mainly serve as temporary accommodation until the renovation of permanent accommodation and more acceptable for accommodation than containers or serve for permanent accommodation, which are approximately 50 houses, was done, while the state has not reconstructed any house/building/unit.
In addition to the issue of reconstruction, the damaged citizens in the area of Glina, Petrinja and Sisak are also troubled by the cancellation of hot meals for all victims located in containers with electric stoves, without taking into account that the possibility of cooking in such accommodation is unconditional, because containers sweat and high humidity is created.
In addition, it is worth noting that citizens who have red and yellow signs of damage to their homes and are placed in containers at their address, in the last two months receive electricity bills, with large amounts, although the Government adopted the Conclusion on 23 September 2021, which instructs HEP (Croatian Electricity Company) to write off claims against this category of injured parties for the period September, October, November and December 2021.
So, in addition to the great tragedy that only worsened the already difficult situation in Banija, state institutions and public services have no ear for the problems of these victims. The process of rebuilding damaged buildings by the state has not started yet, young people are leaving this area. In fact, the state is turning a blind eye to the extinction of this region, but the only hope left is that this accident is an occasion for those responsible to start and try to save this situation, and perhaps it is a warning to help the poorest and most needy residents.
In Sisak, December 10, 2021