As Novac/Jutarnji/Nikola Patkovic writes, just over two weeks have passed since the beginning of the Russian invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, and quite a significant number of people from this war-torn country have fled in the Ukrainian refugee crisis to Osijek-Baranja County in Eastern Croatia. Their hosts have been organising for their reception since the beginning of the unjustified Russian invasion in order to alleviate the traumas they’ll be bringing with them as much as possible, and now a step further has been taken.
Osijek-Baranja County, in cooperation with the non-governmental organisation Centre for Missing and Abused Children Osijek, has prepared an action plan called “Slavonian Heart for Ukrainian Families”.
“During the first few days, the most important thing was to ensure the quality reception of Ukrainian refugees, provide them with accommodation, healthcare… and this has now become a routine. However, in parallel with the Centre for Missing and Abused Children, we launched an action plan with the aim of the faster and better integration of people from Ukraine, especially children, into the Croatian system. It’s a plan for the integration of refugees based on the Croatian Government’s decision to introduce temporary protection for displaced persons from Ukraine. Numerous institutions, civil society associations and healthcare institutions are involved,” said Mato Lukic, Osijek-Baranja County’s Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff of the Civil Protection Directorate there.
On behalf of the Centre for Missing and Abused Children, their president Tomislav Ramljak emphasised that the Centre brings together a large number of experts, primarily psychologists, who have extensive experience from the migrant crisis which took place back in 2015.
“Back then, we put a lot of effort into working with children on their integration into society and providing psychosocial assistance, and we’ll apply this to an even greater extent in this refugee crisis. The emphasis is being primarily placed on working with children. So, on Monday at the Cultural Centre in Osijek, we’ll start with something called children’s corner, where the needs and condition of the children will be assessed, and they’ll also start learning Croatian. Our wish is to be able to include these children in educational processes as soon as possible. Recovery and integration into our environment are the basic tasks. We want them to enter into a routine, because in times of crisis, routine means security,” said Ramljak, while Osijek Deputy Mayor Dragan Vulin stressed that Osijek has readily made all of its resources available as the refugee crisis continues.
Some Ukrainian children have already started attending school, the refugees are provided with free public transport, theatre performances will be organised for them, and it is planned to soon enable the integration of these displaced Ukrainian children into local kindergartens and sports clubs.
Lukic made sure to thank the residents of Osijek-Baranja County who offered up their accommodation for refugees in vacant facilities, as well as those in which they live. He also thanked the many companies, banks included, that were involved in providing assistance, such as Saponia, which provided storage space with equipment and NK Osijek, which offered to pay for accommodation for Ukrainian refugee families.
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