Homeless People in Zagreb Disprove President’s Statement They Do Not Exist

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In a rather bizarre move, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Thursday officially visited Zagreb, the city in which she lives and works. After meeting with Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, the president stated to the media at the Zagreb Fair and claimed that there were no homeless people in Zagreb, reports Index.hr on February 9, 2019.

“I knew a lot because I live here and occasionally meet with the mayor, but I have heard a lot of information during my visit, especially about social benefits. You can see there are no homeless people on the streets of the city, unlike in many other many places,” said President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

However, anyone walking the streets of Zagreb, instead of being driven in a motorcade of armoured vehicles, clearly knows this is not true, and the Croatian Homeless Network decided to react to the President’s statement. The association published its statement on Facebook.

“I have not been shocked like this for a long time, especially given the fact that the statement came from the person who was my favourite for the president until today.

I have often spoken about good social policies of the City of Zagreb in the media and thanked the mayor for the homeless shelter at Velika Kosnica, the soup kitchens, the social shops and other services provided to the poor and socially excluded. I again repeat the praise to the City of Zagreb, which last year funded the trip of Croatia’s homeless team to the Homeless World Cup in Mexico.

However, despite the efforts of the City of Zagreb, on the streets of Zagreb and in non-residential buildings there are at least 500 homeless people. There are currently 130 homeless people in two shelters and about 40 in overnight accommodation in Jukićeva St. The majority of homeless persons in Zagreb came from other areas of Croatia, where there aren’t any services provided to them, so they are forced to go to Zagreb and, if nothing else, eat in numerous soup kitchens. Many come here for work and, if they do not find a job or lose it, stay here.

I point out that many large towns and counties, although being legally obliged to finance homeless services, are not doing anything, so people come to Zagreb not to starve.

The laws have put the burden on local authorities to take care of the homeless people, unwilling to admit that most of them are people who meet the statutory conditions for permanent placement (mentally ill, aged over 65, persons with intellectual disabilities, incapable of work due to illness, etc.) and that they should be under the care of the competent ministry, and not the local authorities.

To help the most vulnerable homeless people, the employees and volunteers go to the field every Tuesday and Friday to help them. There is also the Homeless Help and Support Centre, which has a long list of people literally living on the streets. Perhaps the President wants to take a look at it.

I call on the president, who has been touring Croatia, to find the time and spend one evening taking a walk with us, for example, at the central train station. Maybe she will realise what is really going on.”

Translated from Index.hr.

More news on the president can be found in the Politics section.


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