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Croatia: Population Movement DREF Operation (MDRHR001) Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) Final Report

Situation Report
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A. Situation analysis

Description of the situation

On 2 October 2015, the amount of CHF 361,559 was released from the IFRC Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to meet the immediate emergency needs of 70,700 migrants by providing food and non-food items, hygiene kits and restoring family links services. The DREF Emergency Plan of Action was updated on 1 December 2015 to extend the operation’s timeframe until 30 January 2016. The operating budget was revised in line with the winterisation needs and in response to the relocation of the main reception camp from Opatovac to another location in Slavonski Brod.

Since 16 September 2015, after the Hungarian authorities closed the border with Serbia, people on the move started arriving in Croatia. Until 31 December 2015, some 555,761 refugees and migrants entered Croatia and were registered by the Croatian authorities. The total arrivals in January 2016 were 64,826 people. That makes a total of 623,068 arrivals from 16 September 2015 until 31 January 2016.
The main migration route went through the eastern border of Croatia with Serbia in the villages of Tovarnik and Babska. In the first six weeks, the migrants were crossing the border on foot, and later they were transported by buses to the Temporary Reception Camp of Opatovac. In line with the arrangement between the Croatian Government and the Serbian authorities, migrants and refugees started entering Croatia by train from the beginning of November 2015.

They were taken directly to the Winter Transit Reception Camp Slavonski Brod where they were registered by the police and sheltered. The migrants were entitled to ask for asylum, but very few of them actually applied as almost all of them continued to move on to Western European countries.
Due to the high influx of people into Croatia, the Croatian Ministry of Interior set up a temporary reception centre in Opatovac on 21 September 2015. With the weather conditions deteriorating, a decision was made by the Croatian authorities to set up a new winter reception camp on 3 November in Slavonski Brod while the one in Opatovac was put on stand-by.

The Croatian Red Cross (CRC) also moved all its activities to the new winter camp which caused some reorganization of the CRC operation as well as a reallocation of its operational costs. The Croatian authorities invited the CRC to the new camp from the beginning as the main provider of basic services to the migrants and the coordinator of international organisations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Both reception camps in Opatovac and Slavonski Brod were constructed by the Croatian authorities with the full involvement of the Croatian Red Cross in the setting up of the shelter and community services activities inside the camps.

From 3 November 2015, thanks to the agreement between the authorities of Croatia and Serbia, migrants were transported by train from Šid in Serbia directly to Slavonski Brod in Croatia where they were registered and provided with all the necessary assistance. Additionally, the trains took them directly to Dobova Camp in Slovenia in line with the agreement between the Croatian and Slovenian authorities. Consequently, the migrants were not exposed to exhausting walking through the borderlines anymore and lesser migrants were at health risk than before. During the entire process migrants spent an average of 24 hours at the Camp. The reformed arrangement also contributed to a more effective use of resources of the CRC in facilitating relief provision as the majority of relief was distributed inside the camp.

Slavonski Brod Winter Reception Camp had been constructed around three solid buildings – one was used as the Croatian authorities headquarters of the operation, the second one as the Health clinic managed by the Ministry of Health and the third as the main warehouse managed by the Croatian Red Cross. The heated tents (Rubb Halls) were built for registration of migrants (managed by the Ministry of Interior) and for temporary shelter of migrants in 6 sectors, while prefabricated accommodation containers were set up in the sectors for accommodation of families and vulnerable people, In between there were heated tents for distribution of food and NFIs, for other services such as RFL and PSS activities as well as area with tents and prefabricated accommodation containers for IOs and NGOs.

The Croatian Red Cross took care of organizing the provision of humanitarian assistance to the refugees and migrants. The Croatian Red Cross was distributing food and water, baby supplies, hygiene items, and clothes. It was also providing psychosocial support, Restoring Family Links services and interpretation services for Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. The majority of relief was provided in the reception centres while at border entry points, relief items were distributed depending on the circumstances. For the most part food items distributed to the people at the reception centre came from State Commodity Reserves. Every person received food and non-food items (NFI) assistance from the Croatian Red Cross at least twice during their stay in Croatia. All services provided by the authorities as well as the Croatian Red Cross were free of charge for the beneficiaries.