Accommodation of asylum-seekers in Croatia, courses in Croatian language and culture, workshops and mentoring for better understanding and adaptation to social life, educational, creative and sports activities for children and adults, support for school children, help in the process of validating certificates and diplomas, mentoring in employment, self-employment and starting startups in Croatia – all this is part of the programmes which will take place at the former police station at the Gajnice neighbourhood in Zagreb, which has been unused for the past twenty years, reports Večernji List on March 18, 2019.
The House of Hope, the future gathering place for foreigners who have been granted international protection in Croatia, has created quite a stir in the neighbourhood. As soon as they heard that asylum-seekers were coming, many of the locals started protesting, and the topic is often discussed in heated terms on social networks.
People say they most fear for their own safety. But many do not know the details or the background of this project, who is the organiser and what will exactly happen there. Calling it “the asylum-seekers centre” is not really correct, says Mihal Kreko, the pastor of the Baptist Church of Zagreb, which is leading the project.
The Ministry of the Interior, which has been managing the state-owned property for the past years, has granted them the right to use the facility for ten years without fee, provided they renovate the building. They then formulated a programme to help achieve, according to the contract, “a better and happier life in Croatia.”
“The house will be open to all marginalised and vulnerable groups, not necessarily just asylum-seekers. We will work with them to adapt them to our culture, but also the faith because many have switched to Christianity,” says Pastor Kreko, adding that they will organise the so-called meals on wheels programme, i.e. delivery of food to the elderly and the needy.
To those who are afraid of possible incidents in the neighbourhood, he replies that there is no stricter migration check system than the one in Croatia. “Before they get asylum in this country, everybody has to go through a two-to-three-year investigation process”, says Kreko, adding that the house will accommodate the grand total of eight people.
The Ministry announced that the building was used as a police station until the end of 1998, and since then the Ministry has repeatedly asked the relevant state bodies to decide what they wanted to do with the facility. From 2008 and 2010, a tender for sale was published, but no offer was received. Now the house will be used, among other purposes, for the temporary accommodation of people with international protection.
More news about the migrant issues can be found in the Politics section.
Translated from Večernji List (reported by Petra Balija, Jelena Pišonić Babić).