Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction
Report on Return
of Displaced Persons and Refugees
in the Republic of Croatia
from 2000 – 2003:
Repossession of Property, Housing,
Zagreb, October 2003
Return of Displaced Persons and Refugees - review
1. Current state of return – total of returns until 01 October 2003
Since the beginning of the return process in 1995, the number of registered returnees at the
end of September 2003 reached 315,102.
• 209,297 returnees – former displaced persons, mostly Croats who resided during
their banishment in other areas of Croatia which were not engulfed by the war (approx. 66% of
the overall number of returnees):
• 83,142 returnees to the Croatian Danube region and
125,782 returnees to other areas of Croatia
• 105,805 minority returns of ethnic Serbs (approx. 34% of the overall number of
82,357 cross-border returns (75,295 from Serbia and Montenegro, and 7,062 from
B-H) and 23,448 returnees from the Croatian Danube region
Total returnees registered in Croatia until 01 Oct. 2003: 315,102
Since 2000 Croatian Government took over the active role and undertook a series of measures and
programs in order to find durable solutions for the remaining displaced persons and refugees through
both accelleration of their return and local integration, with the high priority put on two groups of
(i) reconstruction of war damaged and destroyed housing stock and infrastructure in areas of return, and
(ii) repossession of property and provision of housing.
The consequence of undertaken measures was a significant improvement of the return process – its
dynamics and sustainability, which was reflected in the increase in the overall number of returnees in
the last three and half years.
• From the beginning of 2000 until the end of September 2003 total of 80,156 displaced persons
and refugees returned to their homes: 34,088 returnees-former displaced persons, and, 46,068
• In eight months of 2003 a total of 9,724 returnees were registered: 1,977 returns of displaced
persons, mostly to the Croatian Danube region, and 7,747 minority returns from S&MN and B-
Return of displaced persons and refugees to the Republic of Croatia from 2000 – 2003 per
counties (Appendix 1).
A special emphasis should be given to the key change in the return process due to the significant
accelleration of the minority returns as a result of the overall improvement of atmosphere in the local
returnee environment – 57,5% of the overall number of returnees after 2000.
2. Return of displaced persons and refugees to Croatia from 1995 – 2003
A massive return of Croatian displaced persons began at the end of summer of 1995, after military and
police operations "Flash" and "Storm" took place, when the majority of the Croatian territory which had
been occupied since 1991, was brought under the constitutional and legal system of the Republic of
Croatia, except for the Croatian Danube region, where the UN transitional administration was
established at the beginning of 1996 which marked the beginning of the process of peaceful
reintegration into the constitutional and legal system of the Republic of Croatia. During military and
police operations majority of ethnic Serb population abandoned areas engulfed by the operations.
Majority of the total of 220,000 displaced persons registered in 1995 in Croatia, among whom 90,000
were from the Croatian Danube region and 130,000 were from other areas of Croatia, returned to their
homes. A small number of displaced persons remained, mostly from the Vukovar area.
In the spring 1997, during the period of peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube region, a process
of return of ethnic Croat displaced persons to the region and mostly ethnic Serb resettled persons from
the region to other areas of the Republic of Croatia from which they had fled. Majority of the resettled
persons have returned to their homes in other areas of Croatia to date, and only a small number of cases
remain to be solved.
Organized return of ethnic Serbs from Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina began in
summer of 1998, after the Croatian Parliament adopted the Program of return and housing of displaced
persons, refugees and resettled persons on 26 June 1998. The return of Serb refugees began even befor
the process of organized return was opened, as far as end of 1995, based on the humanitarian reunion of
families, whereas a significant number of them have returned since 1997 via Croatian Danube region
and based on Croatian documents which could be obtained in the region.
From 1998 to date total of 32,887 refugees from Croatia who were or still are accommodated in S&MN
and B-H have submitted the return applications to the Ministry, i.e. to the Directorate for Displaced
Persons, Returnees and Refugees. Among them 27,459 refugees were in S&MN and 5,428 were in B-H.
Since the majority of the refugees have already returned to Croatia, there are still 13,508 refugees who
had submitted their return applications but still reside in S&MN – 10,401 persons, and in B-H – 3,107
persons. Ministry, i.e. its Directorate approved their return long ago to the majority of the remaining
refugees who had submitted return applications.
It is important to note that the greatest number of ethnic Serb refugees who resided temporarily in
S&MN and B-H returned to Croatia without submitting return applications. Usually persons who did
not possess Croatian documents resorted to these applications and procedures of organized return.
Table: Return of displaced persons and refugees to the Republic of Croatia 1995 – 2003
Return of displaced persons and Minority return of returnees and resettled
Number of refugees – Croat returnees persons – Serb returnees Total
returnees at the To CDR To other Total From From From Total returnees to
end of the areas CDR S&MN B-H RC
December 1995 9,488
December 1996 80,000 80,000 13,173 - 13,173 93,173
December 1997 8,000 110,000 118,000 10,691 19,328 30,019 148,019
December 1998 26,155 115,000 141,155 27,277 27,664 54,941 196,096
December 1999 46,453 121,665 168,118 30,593 34,096 2,221 66,910 235,028
December 2000 69,075 120,842 189,917 22,678 51,436 3,732 77,846 267,763
December 2001 77,323 123,440 200,763 22,706 60,977 4,735 88,418 289,181
December 2002 81,952 125,368 207,320 22,668 69,427 5,963 98,058 305,378
September 2003 83,445 125,852 209,297 23,448 75,295 7,062 105,805 315,102
Among returnees from the Croatian Danube region at the end of 1997, 1998 and 1999 there is a
significant number of persons who have returned from S&MN and B-H, not from the Croatian Danube
region. This was confirmed when they were registering upon return at the Directorate for Displaced
Persons, Returnees and Refugees of the Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction –
approx. 8,000 persons who stated S&MN and B-H as states of their refuge. These are persons who were
primarily registered in 1997 in the Croatian Danube region as resettled persons. In official statistics
these persons were deregistered at the beginning of 2000 as returnees from the Croatian Danube region
and then re-registered as returnees from S&MN and B-H. Reduction of number of returnees from the
Croatian Danube region which came as a result of deregistration, i.e. re-registration is obvious in the
table cell on return in December 2000. Since the majority of resettled persons, ethnic Serbs, returned to
their homes before 2000, their number has been stable after that with no further significant changes.
3. Displaced persons and refugees who are still waiting for durable solution
Situation on 01 October 2003:
Following categories of persons are still waiting either to return to their homes in Croatia or B-H or
to be provided with housing:
• 11,904 displaced persons who are still residing outside their homes in other areas of Croatia (9,007
from the Croatian Danube region and 2,897 from other areas of Croatia where the reconstruction
has not been finished).
• 5,806 persons with a returnee status out of the total of 313,000 returnees in Croatia (returnee status
expires after six months).
• 4,348 refugees, among whom 3,893 are from B-H (2,394 Croats, 1,281 Bosnians, and 218 other
ethnicities), and 455 refugees from S&MN among whom the majority are refugees from Kosovo.
• 13,221 Croatian citizens of Serb ethnicity in S&MN and B-H who have applied for the return
though they have not returned to Croatia yet. The return has long been approved to the majority of
them. Return applications can still be submitted, therefore the number of potential returnees can still
• 2,091 resettled persons in the Croatian Danube region who are waiting for the return to their homes
either in the Croatian Danube region or in other areas of Croatia.
• 13,623 refugees from B-H and S&MN / 3,657 families who are occupying private property in
Croatia which is claimed for repossession and must be vacated. The majority is in need of housing
in Croatia and a small number of them want to return to B-H where their property had been either
destroyed or is occupied.
There are approx. 120,000 refugees from B-H and approx. 30,000 refugees from S&MN residing in
Croatia who have lost their refugee status because they have acquired the Croatian citizenship.
There are still 37,772 displaced persons, refugees and resettled persons remain either to return or to be
locally integrated. Beside these categories who are still residing in Croatia, there are at least 12,221
refugees who are waiting for the return to Croatia. They have submitted return applications and are
currently residing in S&MN and B-H – thus 50,993 displaced persons and refugees remain to be solved
either through return or local integration.
Accommodation and housing of the remaining displaced persons and refugees
Among the above stated persons who are still waiting to be provided for, there are 22,058 persons
currently included into the system of care and accommodation in Croatia, who realize their rights and
protection on the basis of their status of a displaced person, returnee or refugee: 11,904 are displaced
persons, 5,806 are returnees and 4,348 are refugees. Among them 6,578 persons are accommodated in
organized facilities of the Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction, whereas the rest
of them are accommodated privately. The rest of the displaced persons and refugees are beneficiaries of
other forms of support through reconstruction program or housing.
There are 6,578 persons: 3,631 displaced persons, 774 returnees and 2,173 refugees in organized
accommodation. There are 60 facilities which accommodate displaced persons and refugees, whereas a
small number of persons is accommodated in social and welfare institutions and dormitories together
with regular inmates. Part of the remaining organized accommodation under the Ministry's management
are used for accommodation of a small number of returnees mostly from the abroad, who are waiting
for their property to be reconstructed, was well as of temporary occupants who are vacating private
property which is repossessed by owners.
For example, more than 500 facilities, hotels, refugee centers, resorts, workers' lodging etc. were used
for accommodation of displaced persons and refugees in 1995, however the majority of these facilities
have been vacated to date, since the beginning of the process of return of displaced persons and
refugees at the end of 1995.
Compared with the beginning of 2000, total number of displaced persons and returnees on the state
welfare has been reduced by 70,000, which ensured substantial savings in the State Budget. After 2000
a significant rationalization has been achived in the system of organized accommodation – number of
facilities used for organized accommodation has been reduced by 230, whereas the remaining 60
facilities accommodate 6,435 persons. Displaced persons and refugees vacated the majority of hotels as
early as 2000 and 2001. Out of the total of 41 hotels which had been used for accommodation of
displaced persons and refugees at the beginning of 2000, moving out from the last two is currently
under way. Thus, as of Ocotber 2003 not a single hotel will be used for accommodation of displaced
Table: Displaced persons in Croatia and refugees from Croatia in the period 1991-2003
Displaced persons in Croatia Refugees from Croatia Number of refugees
Situation at the end Displaced Resettled In other In S&MN according to official
of the year persons in persons in Total countries and B-H S&MN and B-H
Croatia - CDR - Serbs2 outside according to sources5
Croats1 former return In S&MN In B-H-
SFRY3 applications4 - Serbs Serbs
December 1991 550,000 550,000 150,000 35,560
December 1992 260,705 260,705 77,550 60,453
December 1993 232,103 232,103 59,949 70,586
December 1994 199,807 199,807 56,887 77,438
December 1995 210,592 210,592 35,000 283,138
December 1996 138,088 138,088 16,825 336,999 40,000
December 1997 101,660 31,667 133,327 5,000 40,000
December 1998 72,676 10,503 83,179 14,270 302,600 40,000
December 1999 46,273 4,739 51,012 21,569 298,000 39,591
December 2000 30,647 3,487 34,134 13,736 289,000 24,877
December 2001 19,991 3,411 23,402 13,002 244,900 23,607
December 2002 13,748 3,352 17,100 13,407 228,236 22,016
September 2003 11,904 2,091 13,995 13,221 215,621 21,539
CDR – Croatian Danube region
1) Precise records on displaced persons in Croatia have existed since 1992 when the Government
carried out first registration of displaced persons who had abandoned areas of Croatia engulfed by
the war and found their shelter in other safer areas of Croatia. Re-registration of displaced persons
and refugees accommodated in Croatia have been carried out in 1994 and 1997, when the
computerized data base was established containing all persons with a status.
2) Data on resettled persons in the Croatian Danube region have been available since 1997, when the
Croatian Government conducted registration of all persons settled in the region for the first time.
3) Data in the table are based on official statistics from the countries where the refugees were
accommodated in the period until 1997, since the majority of refugees from Croatia who previously
resided in countries outside the territory of former SRFY returned until then.
4) Since the organized return of refugees from Serbia and Montenegro as well as from Bosnia and
Herzegovina to Croatia started in 1998, the Government has at their disposal the precise data on the
applications for return submitted by refugees from Croatia who resided in S&MN and B-H. Total of
32,887 refugees submitted return applications so far for the return to Croatia, among them 27,459
were accommodated in S&MN and 5,428 refugees were accommodated in B-H. Since the majority
of them have returned, there are currently 13,221 refugees waiting for the return.
5) Data on Croatian refugees in S&MN and B-H are given on the basis of official data from S&MN
and B-H, since the Croatian Government dud not have data on these persons.
4. Return of refugees to Croatia
Croatia has clearly stated that everyone who wants to return can do so whenever they want as well as
removed all obstacles to the return of all refugees. Not once has the Croatian Government appealed to
its citizens to return. For example, in 2001, Croatia and UNHCR launched an intensified media
campaign in S&MN relating to submission of applications for reconstruction until the deadline set on
31 December 2001. The result of the campaign was a large number of applications for reconstruction
submitted by the refugees in S&MN as well as B-H.
On the other hand, the fact is that the great majority of Croatian ethnic Serbs residing in Serbia decided
to be locally integrated. According to the data supplied by Serbia and Montenegro there are approx.
245,000 Serb refugees from Croatia, and 70% of them do not wish to return but have decided to be
According to our data 300,000 Serbs at most had fled from Croatia, and 104,000 of them have returned
so far. Many of them returned in order to use their right to property and pension and then returned to
Yugoslavia. The information on their number can not be accurate. However, these persons were
registered in Croatia as returnees and made use of their rights.
Simultaneously, there are approx. 4,000 empty houses in Croatia at the moment, which were vacated by
temporary occupants, and whose owners are searched for by the Ministry in order to take over their
property. Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction gave data on such property to the
Serb Democratic Forum (SDF) and UNHCR in order to locate the owners and ask them to take over
The efforts of the Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction have been directed for
quite a while toward establishment of dialogue and cooperation with authorized bodies of Bosnia and
Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro in particular, in order to solve the issue of cross-border return
of remaining Croatian refugees in these countries which is still encumbering bilateral relations.
One of the aims on the part of Croatia is to obtain from the Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and
Herzegovina the precise data on refugees from Croatia who are still residing in those two countries
according to the official statistics in order to determine for each individual the possibility of a return to
Croatia. Until recently, none of the two states provided data other than general statistics to Croatia.
As for the Croatian part, the Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction has on many
occasions provided data to both states and UNHCR missions situated there on persons on our welfare
which were relevant to these two countries – more precisely, data on all returnees from S&MN
registered in Croatia as well as data on applications for the return to Bosnia and Herzegovina submitted
by refugees still residing in Croatia and returnees from B-H registered in Croatia.
5. Funds spent and envisaged for the return of displaced persons and refugees
Croatian State Budget funds spent on the return of displaced persons and refugees in the period 1992-
2002, as well as those envisaged for 2003 and 2004 are:
• 16.2 billion KN for reconstruction of housing (14.57 billion KN) and for reconstruction of utility
and social infrastructure, without costs of reconstruction carried out by public companies (1.66
• 1.56 billion KN for repossession of property and housing provision – 1.32 billion KN for the
purchase of houses by APN and 237 million KN for the supply of construction material including
basic infrastructure connections for constructed and reconstructed housing units;
• 7.38 billion KN for the return and basic care of the displaced persons and refugees – 6.99 billion
KN for the care of displaced persons, returnees and refugees and 396 million KN for assistance and
organization of their return (costs of health care, education, etc. are not included);
total of 25.2 billion KN, out of which 91% are funds provided from the Croatian State Budget, and
8.4% are loans given by international and domestic financial institutions after 2000. These budget funds
include basic costs of return and care of displaced persons, returnees and refugees, reconstruction of
housing, utility and social infrastructure, repossession of property and housing provision.
Out of that amount, 6.37 billion KN have been spent i.e. envisaged in the period 2000-2003 – 4.53
billion KN were provided from the State Budget, and 1.84 billion KN were provided from loans issued
both on the domestic and international financial market. It needs to be stressed that considerable funds
have been invested since 2000 for the first time in repossession of property and provision of housing as
well as in reconstruction of utility and social infrastructure, furthermore possibilities of favorable loans
from foreign and domestic financial institutions have been utilized with the aim of acceleration and
completion of the program of return and accommodation of displaced persons and refugees.
Funds stated above include loans which the Croatian Government has received after 2000 from
international financial institutions – Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), European
Investment Bank (EIB) and Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), as well as loans
obtained since 2001 on the domestic financial market – from the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and
Table is enclosed:
Review of funds from the Croatian State Budget envisaged and spent on the return of displaced
persons and refugees in the period 1992-2004. (Appendix 2).
Enclosed table contains a detailed review of Croatian Budget funds spent on the return of displaced
persons and refugees in the period 1992-2002, as well as funds envisaged for 2003 and 2004 by year
and component. Loan amounts received by the Croatian Government from international financial
institutions, as well as domestic loans are marked distinctly.
Funds invested in return of displaced persons and refugees have been provided for the most part from
the Croatian State Budget.
Contributions from foreign donors and NGO's to various programs of assistance and housing of
displaced persons and refugees in Croatia, as well as to their return, from 1992 to date amount approx.
15% of the overall State Budget funds invested so far. Out of that amount approx. 8% are funds
invested after 2000 in various programs of return of displaced persons and refugees. Majority of
donations before 2000 related to various programs of assistance in food and accommodation of
displaced persons and refugees. EU is the biggest individual donor with approx. 367 million EUR
invested in assistance in providing for and return of refugees until end of 2002.
6. Results in the return of displaced persons and refugees between 2000 and 2003
Measures undertaken by the Croatian Government since 2000 have resulted in significant improvement
in the process of return – its dynamics and sustainability in the last more than three and half years
(January 2000 to end September 2003), which can be seen among other in following indicators:
• 80,156 returnees – 34,088 displaced Croats (43%) and 46,068 ethnic Serb refugees who have
returned primarily from Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina (57%). In eight
months of the 2003 there were 9,724 registered returnees – 20% displaced persons and 80%
• 28,400 reconstructed housing units and supporting basic utility and social infrastructure in places of
return, which enabled return of 85,000 returnees.
• 15,006 repossessed private properties, among which 5,320 have been repossessed since September
2002, when latest amendments were implemented relating to the repossession procedures.
• 4,889 housed families of temporary occupants of private property, mostly refugees from B-H and
S&MN, and other returnee families in need of housing, who were approved the lease of state
property or construction material (since the beginning of 2002). Out of that number 3,326 have
been housed since September 2002.
• Construction material for reconstruction of damaged houses in B-H has been provided and its
delivery to 1,223 refugee families (4,560) is under way, through Croatian Government's program of
assistance to the return to B-H.
Acceleration of minority return as a result of undertaken measures as well as the overall change in
the atmosphere in places of return is of particular importance.
This was brought about not only by activities relating to creation of sustainable physical conditions for
the return but also by appeals to Croatian refugees to return to Croatia which have been reiterated on
many occasions. It has to be noted that the public parliamentary debate was opened on amendments of
the Law on reconstruction and the Law on areas of special state concern in 2000, greater media
attention was given to the topic of return as well as the determination shown by the new Government in
its intentions and appeals for the return which all achieved notable results in increased minority returns
to Croatia as well as in change of public opinion on the issue of the return of minorities. Croatian
Government declared and continued its public and transparent policy on return, which was also
demonstrated in the last public appeal by the Croatian prime minister this June who invited all Croatian
refugees still residing abroad to return. This public appeal was instigated by the enactment of the
program of housing of ex-tenancy right holders.
One of the results of the Government's transparent policy on return and stimulation of co-operation with
local returnee communities, including civil associations, is the establishment of a notable inter-ethnic
co-operation between associations of Croat refugees from B-H and Serb returnees in Croatia since
2000. This inter-ethnic co-operation between various associations has significantly changed the attitude
toward minority returns in local returnee communities.
In regard to the return of minorities trend of return of younger families has been noted which has
particularly been brought about by initiated measures of reconstruction of infrastructure and
acceleration of repossession of property, as well as expanded programs of reconstruction of housing
directed to a greater extent toward minority returnees. Harmonization and leveling of social protection
of returnees and other persons in need of social care have contributed to the slowing down of trend of
subsequent leaving of the place or return.
Problems in the process of return still exist in the part relating to creation of sustainable conditions of
return for all potential returnees. There are still 17,000 families waiting for reconstruction of their
damaged or destroyed houses, among whom 11,200 are refugees outside Croatia, mostly ethnic Serbs.
There are still 4,271 occupied private housing units mostly owned by returnees, i.e. potential ethnic
Serb returnees. Approx. 2,700 refugees from B-H and S&MN who are occupying private property are
in need of housing in Croatia, whereas a smaller number of them need support in their return to B-H.
Part of returnees to areas of special state concern and other population settled there are also in need of
housing, as well as refugees who are ex-tenancy right holders and who want to return either to areas of
special state concern or to other areas of Croatia.
However, Croatian Government has set forth precise institutional frameworks and implementation
mechanisms as well as 2006 as a deadline for solution of all remaining problems considered as direct
obstacle to sustainable return of people. For implementation of these measures major part of funds have
been provided from the Croatian Budget and other Government's sources, including loans provided
from domestic and foreign financial institutions. Active cooperation with international organizations
and NGO's participating in projects of return to Croatia have also been established.
Beside that, question of economic revival of areas of special state concern remains to be solved, since
the complete population of returnees and settlers are in grave material situation there, which calls for
additional efforts to be made and considerable finances to be invested.
Further progress is expected in co-operation with the neighboring countries, especially Serbia and
Montenegro in order to accelerate return and provide final solutions for cases of all Croatian citizens
remaining in S&MN through bilateral co-operation.
All programs relating to the return which are currently operative – reconstruction of the damaged and
destroyed housing and basic infrastructure, repossession of private property, provision of housing,
assistance in the return of refugees to B-H are aimed at provision of sustainable conditions of return.
Process of solving problems relating to the return is very complex and partly dependent on wider
reforms which are implemented in Croatia. However Croatian Government demonstrates its
determination through concrete investments in order to bring this process to an end as soon as possible.
Beside reconstruction and repossession of property measures have also been undertaken for stimulation
of economic revival of the areas of return, efforts are put in mine clearing and bringing order in the
system of land registry.
Achieved results, all measures which have been undertaken and whose implementation is still under
way as well as considerable financial investments on the part of the Croatian Government, speak in
favor of clear determination and consistency of the Croatian policy in providing conditions and
ensuring return of all Croatian refugees and displaced persons. Aim of the Croatian Government is to
conclude the processes in shortest period of time which are directly connected to the return of displaced
persons and refugees and thus finally conclude the issue of war consequences in Croatia in order to turn
to future programs of development of current areas of return but also to fulfill one of obligations
ensuing from the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union.
Implementation of activities relating to the return of displaced
persons and refugees in Croatia
I. Repossession of property(from 01 Sept. 2002 to 01 Oct. 2003)
- implementation of amendments to the Law on areas of special
1. Current state of affairs – occupied property on 01 Oct. 2003
According to the Law on temporary take-over and management of certain property which was cancelled
in 1998, municipalities and towns allocated for temporary use total of 19,277 private housing units
between 1995 and 1998.
State of affairs regarding property which was allocated for use between 1995 and 1998 on 19 Oct. 2003:
15,006 repossessed or empty housing units (available to owners)
4,271 currently occupied housing units which should be returned to their owners
Total: 19,277 housing units
Out of that number 4,000 houses are empty and owners' whereabouts are unknown. International
organizations and NGO's, among which SDF in particular (NGO active among ethnic Serb returnees in
Croatia and Serb refugees abroad with branches in S&MN and B-H) have been included in search for
Solving of the remaining cases of occupied property - models
Solving of the remaining 4,271 cases of occupied housing units is conducted through following models:
1) Eviction of temporary occupants – eviction procedures are under way for 595 occupants of
private property according to MPWRC eviction orders due to finished reconstruction of their own
houses, illegal occupancy or dismissed claims for housing due to possession of other habitable property
in RC or B-H.
2) Housing of temporary occupants – for the remaining 2,668 temporary occupants housing, i.e.
alternative accommodation is provided to the families in order to vacate occupied property. Currently
purchase by APN of 547 temporarily occupied houses is under way because their owners have offered
them for sale to APN in the meantime. In such cases temporary occupants will be provided with
housing in houses which they are currently occupying.
3) Housing in progress – construction of houses for 1,008 occupants is under way in which they
will be housed. After completion of construction they will vacate the occupied property.
Priority is currently given to 2,766 remaining applications for repossession of property submitted by
owners. For the remaining 1,505 occupied houses which have not been laid claims to, and owners of the
majority of them cannot be located.
2. State of affairs preceding the amendments of the Law on areas of special state concern
Previous Law on temporary takeover and management of certain property ("Official Gazette", NO.
73/95, 7/96 and 100/97) which was adopted at the end of 1995 placed the following property under
temporary management of the Republic of Croatia:
• property in previously occupied areas of RC, which was abandoned and not used by their owners,
• property owned by persons who abandoned RC after 17 August 1990 or who resided in the
occupied areas of the RC and who have not used it in person since the day they abandoned it,
• property in the territory of RC, owned by citizens of S&MN, who do not use that property in
This is mostly the property whose owners are refugees who left Croatia in summer of 1995 and resided
temporarily or are still residing as refugees in S&MN and B-H. Such property was temporarily
allocated for use to refugees from B-H and S&MN as well as to other returnees in areas of special state
concern in the period between 1995 and mid 1998, when the Law was operative,
Estimates on the total number of allocated property ranged from 16,000 to 20,000 occupied private
housing units. Accurate data on the total number of allocated property had not been known because
there was no unified data base until 2002 which contained local housing commissions' decisions on
temporary takeover and use of property which were established according to that law and authorized to
issue decisions on allocation of property to be used by temporary occupants.
Law on temporary takeover and management of certain property came out of force in mid 1998, when
the organized return of refugees from S&MN and B-H began. Simultaneously the process of
repossession of private occupied property and durable housing of settled population began. Procedure
of repossession of property was defined by the Program of return and housing of displaced persons,
refugees and resettled persons ("Official Gazette", NO. 92/98 – in further text: the Return Program) and
the Law on cancellation of the Law on temporary takeover and management of certain property
("Official Gazette", No. 101/98). Town and municipal housing commissions were entrusted with
implementation of the repossession of property according to the stated acts which were established in
approx. 120 towns and municipalities where such property existed. Overall results in repossession of
property were estimated as dissatisfying since according to the data obtained from the housing
commissions until the beginning of 2000 only 2,700 houses were repossessed, i.e. 3,400 houses were
repossessed by the end of that year.
Measures initiated by the Government in 2000 within the existing regulatory framework achieved
limited success in process of repossession of property, therefore it was concluded that the existing
system of repossession of property and housing commissions did not function in the whole. Namely,
Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction (in further text: Ministry) as a competent
body of state administration had never been able to supervise and co-ordinate completely the process of
repossession of property which was managed by local self-government through housing commissions.
For that reason it was concluded that a comprehensive change was needed in the system of repossession
of property. It started in 2001 and was concluded by adoption of amendments of the Law on areas of
special state concern in 2002.
Revision of occupied private property in 2001
In order to accelerate the process of repossession of property and remove existing weaknesses
Government entrusted Ministry to obtain documentation from housing commissions and establish a data
base on temporarily allocated property in areas of special state concern, as well as to conduct field
inspections. In this way it would be possible to have accurate data on how many and which property
was allocated for use, and to establish the system of exchange of data relating to repossession of
property as well as better co-ordination of work of housing commissions. Based on documentation
obtained from housing commissions, Ministry conducted inspection i.e. revision of all occupied private
property in the first half of 2001 which had been allocated according to the Law on temporary take-over
and management of certain property and determined for the first time the exact number of temporarily
allocated and occupied property.
Revision conducted between 30 January 2001 and 11 May 2001 included 21,086 decisions on
temporary allocation of property, i.e. field inspection of houses and apartments which were allocated
was carried out – total of 18,650 private housing units.
The field inspection found that:
(i) 8,643 housing units were either in the property of their owners or empty (4,895 housing units were
(ii) 10,007 housing units were occupied by temporary occupants and had to be repossessed by owners.
As for temporary occupants, it was found that 61% of families of temporary occupants were from
B-H, 29% were from Croatia, 6% were from S&MN and 4% were from other states.
Thus the quantity of temporarily allocated private property in Croatia was known for the first time, as
well as its currents status – repossessed, empty or occupied, identity of occupants.
Based on Government's instruction and data obtained from the revision, Ministry, i.e. its Directorate for
Displaced Persons, Returnees and Refugees (in further text: Directorate) undertook a series of measures
and activities relating to repossession of property in the second half of 2001. Among other, 22,468
various operational instructions were given to housing commissions, other authorized ministries and
bodies of state administration or directly to occupants. Out of that number 9,598 operational
instructions, including eviction orders for temporary occupants were sent to housing commissions. As a
result Croatian Government adopted in December 2001 the Action plan proposed by the Ministry on
implementation of repossession of property until the end of 2002, which envisaged repossession of the
remaining occupied property. At the same time a bill on amendments and supplements of a law on areas
of special state concern was .put into parliamentary procedure
3. Amendments and supplements of the Law on areas of special state concern brought in
With the aim of completion of the process of repossession of property which was temporarily allocated
for use according to the previous Law on temporary take-over and management of certain property, the
amendments of the Law on areas of special state concern was adopted in July 2002 (OG, No. 88/02)
which related to procedures of repossession of private occupied property. These legal changes were
based on the Government's decision of September 2001 to conclude the process of repossession of
property until the end of 2002 and the Action plan of December 2001 on implementation of
repossession of property until the end of 2002, with concrete measures for repossession of property.
These decisions and changes in the system of repossession of property were based on the review of all
occupied property which was carried out by the Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and
Construction in the first half of 2001, which ensured a clear initial state.
According to the latest amendments of the Law on areas of special state concern ("Official Gazette",
No. 44/96, 57/96k, 124/97, 73/00 and 88/02; "Official Gazette" No. 26/03 – revised text) adopted in
July 2002, the Ministry has taken over the responsibility for implementation of property repossession
since 01 September 2002. Housing commissions in towns and municipalities which were established
according to the Program of return and housing of displaced persons, refugees and resettled persons
which were responsible for repossession of property until then were cancelled and their documentation
on repossession of property was taken over by the Ministry which then continued the implementation of
Beside the above stated, law amendments also changed and harmonized procedures of repossession of
property, and deadlines were set for repossession of property until 31 October, i.e. 31 December 2002.
In case that property is not repossessed in time, compensation of damage to the owner has been
envisaged until the repossession takes place as a measure of protection of owners.
Two possibilities have been envisaged for temporary occupants who are currently occupying private
• eviction without right to alternative accommodation in cases of illegal use of property, and if
housing units owned by temporary occupants have been reconstructed or if they have other
habitable property either in Croatia or in other states established after the disintegration of ex-SRFY
– legal proceedings are instituted via State Attorney's Office against occupants who refuse to move
• eviction with right to either housing or temporary accommodation until right to housing is approved
The law envisages eviction of occupants of state-owned property – apartments and houses purchased by
APN, if their homes are reconstructed. Sanctions are envisaged if they refuse to move out - refund of
amount spent on reconstruction and legal proceedings instituted by State Attorney's Office.
4. Implementation of amendments and supplements of the Law on areas of special state
concern (from 01 Sept. 2002 to 01 Sept. 2003)
Taking over of documentation on repossession of property from housing commissions: According to
amended Law on areas of special state concern Ministry took over the entire documentation on
occupied private property and repossessions from housing commissions during August 2002. Among
other, documentation was taken over on 1,400 cases of property temporarily allocated for use which had
not been submitted to the Ministry earlier. Thus inspection of those housing units was carried out as late
as September 2002 and occupants were identified.
Permanent Ministry/Directorate offices have been established in ca 20 municipal centers and towns
with most numerous cases of occupied property where no such offices existed before. On the other hand
in other places Directorate offices and its branches which had already existed at county centers took
over from ex-housing commissions.
There has been minor opposition and lack of understanding in some municipalities and towns toward
the new role which they had to perform as well as toward the role of the Ministry in the process of
repossession of property, however most of misunderstanding has been resolved in past period and good
cooperation was established, especially in regard to housing of temporary occupants and harmonization
of activity with municipal and town plans.
Implementation of procedures for repossession of property
In order to finish the process of repossession of property until the end of 2003, following procedures are
• Implementation and completion of the process of repossession of property by the Ministry and
courts of law;
• Housing of temporary occupants of currently occupied property through either alternative
accommodation in Croatia or return to B-H or completion of reconstruction of damaged housing
units in RC.
Repossession of property after September 2002
After September 2002, Ministry undertook all necessary measures in order to ensure
repossession of property by rightful owners, among other:
• Decisions on repossession of property: In conformity with the law amendments Ministry issued
decisions on repossession of property until end 2002 to owners who had submitted applications for
repossession of property, the ownership of which had been checked and for which no decisions had
been issued by ex-housing commissions. MPWRC issues decisions based on all subsequent
applications for repossession of property. Total of 1,720 decisions have been issued to date on
cancellation of decisions on temporary use and repossession of property which had been delivered
both to owners and occupants.
Decisions are issued for the property which was laid claims to by their owners until 01 August
2002, when law amendments were enacted relating to repossession of property – 3,808 applications,
as well as additional 1,180 applications for repossession taken over from housing commisions
during the handover in August 2002 and 807 applications submitted by owners after 01 August
2002 – total of 5,795 applications for repossession of property, out of which more than half have
been repossessed to date.
• Eviction orders: More than 1,150 eviction orders have been delivered to occupants whose homes
had been reconstructed or who are using private property illegally, as well as to occupants with no
right to housing. Out of that number, approx. 523 illegal occupants, occupants whose property had
been reconstructed or those who had no right to housing, have vacated occupied private property,
whereas Ministry continues with eviction procedures against the remaining 595 occupants.
• Institution of legal proceedings through State Attorney's Office based on eviction order issued by
the Ministry against occupants who refuse to vacate the occupied property.
Since the beginning of this year Ministry has submitted data to the State Attorney's Office and
requested instituting of 945 legal proceedings, which include (i) 273 proceedings taken over from
ex-housing commissions (instituted by commissions or based on private suits), and (ii) 672
proceedings which were instituted upon the request from the Ministry against illegal occupants who
had refused to vacate occupied property upon receiving eviction orders.
Out of that number proceedings are underway against 653 occupants of private property, whereas
the property has been repossessed in the remaining cases.
• Compensation of damage to owners: Payment of statutory compensation to owners whose property
has not been repossessed until end 2002. After the enactment of the Government's decision on 30
April 2002 on the compensation amounting 7KN/m2 (OG 68/03), Ministry mailed settlement offers
to owners to sign and return them to the Ministry – total of 1.212 settlement offers have been sent
so far to owners of occupied property, whereas 523 of them have been signed and returned to the
Ministry. In 400 cases additional documents and statements on the housing unit have been
demanded which are necessary for the payment of compensation.
Total of 561 compensations were paid in July and August for sustained damage to owners who
returned signed settlements to the Ministry, including all unpaid money since the beginning of the
year, i.e. since 01 November 2002. As part of owners got the possession of their property in the
meantime, they recived single compensations, whereas those whose property has not bee
repossessed are receiving regular monthly payments until the property is returned to them. More
than half of owners who had received compensations have repossessed their property in the
• Provision of housing: Accelleration of the program of housing through which 3,326 temporary
occupants of private property have been provided since September 2002, majority of whom have
vacated the occupied property, whereas 1,008 occupants who have received construction material
will vacate the property upon completion of construction of objects of alternative accommodation.
However, achieved acceleration ih housing of temporary occupants is still below the envisaged
dynamics. More will be said on this topic in chapter about the housing program.
The result of implementation of the latest law amendments relating to the system of repossession
of property is
repossession of 5,320 housing units by rightful owners after 01 September 2002
when the Ministry took over the responsibility for repossession of property from ex-housing
commissions and began with implementation of legal changes – from September 2002 to end
Out of that number as much as 3,029 cases of repossessed property in the last twelve months are those
in which owners applied for repossession i.e. solved applications for repossession of property.
5. Solving of the remaining cases of occupied property –
Plan for implementation of repossession of property until the end of 2003
Plan for implementation of repossession of property until the end of 2003 which was proposed by the
Ministry and adopted by the Government this June, elaborates dynamics of repossession of property
until the end of 2003 for the property which was still occupied on 01 June 2003, i.e. for total of 5,496
private housing units. This plan expresses the intention to finish the process of repossession of private
property until the end of this year.
The plan envisages following concrete measures for repossession of property until the end of the year:
• Implementation and completion of procedures of repossesson of property by the authorized
Ministry and courts of law;
• Provision of housing for temporary occupants of private property through either alternative
accommodation in Croatia or return to B-H or finished reconstruction of damaged housing units
Average dynamics of solving cases envisaged by the plan for 2003 is approx. 780 repossessions of
property per month, which would make total of 3,250 repossession until the end of September.
According to this plan solution has been found for 3,461 cases of occupied property since the beginning
of the year, through: (i) eviction of temporary occupants (842 mostly illegal occupants have vacated the
occupied property), and (ii) provision of housing for temporary occupants (alternative housing has been
provided for 2,619 occupants, among whom 1,163 are those receiving construction material for
construction of the alternative housing). Out of that number 2,622 housing units have been vacated and
repossessed until September– realized repossessions, whereas the remaining 4,271 occupied housing
units will be vacated upon finished construction of alternative housing (deliveries of construction
material underway). Delay in realization of program of repossession of property and provision of
housing for temporary occupants is due to a slower pace of delivery of construction material and
purchase of houses by APN compared to the primarily envisaged dynamics. These reasons will be
discussed later in the text.
Judging by the current dynamics of housing repossession of property will be realized until the end of
the year – 2,766 housing units claimed for repossession by owner.
Measures for implementation and completion of repossession procedures
Implementation of law-envisaged repossession procedures to be carried out by the Ministry which
decides on eviction of temporary occupants without delay or on right of an occupant to either
permanent or temporary housing. Ministry has already decided on the way in which to solve the cases
of the remaining occupied property – total of 4,271 housing units in one of the two ways:
a) Eviction orders without delay:
At the moment 595 current occupants of private property must vacate the property because of finished
reconstruction of their own homes, illegal use or because they do not have right to housing because they
own other habitable property either in Croatia or in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Data of 01 October 2003 confirm that all of them have already received eviction orders and that they
are currently moving out. Further changes relating to rights of temporary occupants and modes of their
solution are possible, because of the ongoing inspections of property of temporary occupants in Bosnia
and Herzegovina conducted through Croatian Embassy there and authorized B-H Ministry for refugees
and human rights. State of property is checked directly on the spot and credible documents issued by
authorized B-H State bodies on ownership and state of property are obtained, primarily in regard to
reconstruction and repossession which are then sent to the MPWRC. Thus it can be expected that the
number of occupants who will not be provided for via housing will be on the increase, and that they will
receive eviction orders.
Instituting legal proceedings by State Attorney's Office against temporary occupants who refuse
to vacate the property upon receiving eviction orders from the Ministry
MPWRC institutes legal proceedings through State Attorney's Office against temporary occupants who
refuse to move out of private property upon receiving decisions and eviction orders. Since the
beginning of the year MPWRC has requested from the State Attorney's Office to institute legal
proceedings against 945 temporary occupants of private property, among which 672 are proceedings
instituted by the Ministry against illegal occupants who had refused to vacate the occupied property
upon receiving eviction orders from the Ministry, and 273 are proceedings taken over from housing
commissions which had been either instituted by housing commissions or based on private suits. These
proceedings include 927 housing units. Since 274 housing units have been repossessed in the meantime
proceedings continue for 653 still occupied housing units.
We do not have data on the overall number of proceeding which have been instituted i.e. continued by
the State Attorney's Office.
Judging by the past practice majority of temporary occupants who have received eviction orders from
the Ministry will vacate the occupied property before legal proceedings are instituted through State
Attorney's Office. If State Attorney's Office institutes proceedings against such occupants before the
end of the year it can be expected that the majority of such property will be vacated and repossessed by
owners until the end of the year.
b) Approval for housing with determined right to a specified model of housing – permanent or
Ministry has determined right to housing for all remaining temporary occupants, 3,676 families, thus a
concrete mode of housing is provided for them: 1) permanent housing for beneficiaries who do not own
any other property realized through all models of housing envisaged by the Law on areas of special
state concern, i.e. 2) temporary housing of occupants, who do not own their own housing unit in either
RC or B-H to be reconstructed or repossessed, in state-owned houses or apartments, through lease of
other housing unit, through organized accommodation in refugee centers, or through paying rent for
temporary accommodation found by occupants themselves until their final solution through housing is
Total of 1,008 families of temporary occupants have already received approvals for housing with
determined model and concrete address of the housing object for alternative accommodation. They have
received construction material for construction of alternative housing and they will vacate occupied
property as soon as the construction is finished.
Right to housing has been approved for the remaining 2,668 temporary occupants since these are
families which have no other habitable property either in Croatia or B-H. Among them 535 families
have right to permanent housing since they do not have any other property, and for the remaining 2,133
families the right to temporary housing accommodation has been approved until reconstruction of their
property in B-H or Croatia is finished or repossessed. Thus, cases of 535 families at most can be solved
through allocation of construction material, whereas the majority of the remaining 2,133 families with a
right on temporary housing can be offered lease of state-owned property or temporary accommodation
provided by the Ministry either in its facilities or in private property rented from owners.
When the housing units is provided occupants have obligation to vacate the occupied private property
which is then repossessed by the owner – within 15 days for occupants who rent a state-owned house or
apartment, and within 90 days after the last (third) delivery for occupants who receive construction
Although there has been an overall acceleration in implementation of the housing program since 2002,
especially in this year, housing dynamics in this year is slower than envisaged. Concrete units of
alternative accommodation have been provided since the beginning of this year for 2,600 temporary
occupant whose right to housing has been approved, among them 2/3 have abandoned occupied
property because they rented state-owned property, while the others are either waiting for the
construction material to be delivered or construction of housing units is under way.
Implementation of the housing program is slower than envisaged in the part relating to purchase of
houses by APN, as well as to delayed deliveries of construction material and preparation of construction
land for the construction. Provision of total of 5,068 housing units has been envisaged during 2003 in
the State Budget funds and CEB loan through purchase of approx. 3.060 houses by state agency APN
and through allocation of 2,008 sets of construction material. This will be dealt with in more detail in
the chapter on housing.
Due to above stated reasons, implementation of housing of temporary occupants until the end of the
year is planned in the following way:
1) Lease of undamaged state-owned houses purchased by APN for the purpose of housing for at
least 1,500 temporary occupants, however not more than 900 occupants are expected to be
provided with housing with measures undertaken to accelerate the implementation. Rate of
purchase of 350 houses per month by APN in this year was envisaged, though it is actually less
than 200 purchased houses per month. This rate is expected to rise until the end of the year
because of the money from the CEB loan, thus 300 houses a month at most could be purched,
i.e. not more than 900 occupants could be provided with housing.
2) Allocation of construction material for reconstruction of state-owned or private houses or for
construction on private or state-owned land for total of 1,500 occupants in need. Out of that
number preparations for construction, contruction or delivery of construction material for 1,000
families are under way – they will vacate the occupied property after the delivery of
construction material, which is expected until the end of the year. Deliveries are underway for
approx. 757 occupants who are still residing in private property, who are expected to finish the
construction of objects and vacate occupied property, which depends on acceleration of
deliveries of construction material until the end of the year as well as on duration of
construction season. Total of 368 families had received entire construction material before and
finished construction of alternative housing units, thus they have vacated occupied property.
The rest of occupants will not be provided for until the end of the year through this model of
housing since deliveries of construction material have not even started, thus other forms of
alternative housing will have to be provided for them.
3) Lease of a state-owned apartment or other housing units to be rented by the Ministry or
temporary accommodation in MPWRC facilities or in other housing units rented by the
Ministry or housing found by the occupant for which the Ministry will pay the rent until final
solution is reached through housing – for at least 700 families, among whom the majority will
be provided for in the last three months of this year. Number of occupants to be solved in this
way can grow since part of occupants who will not be permanently housed through the two
above models will also be provided for in this way.
Ministry will provide temporary accommodation in facilities rented from private persons or in
organized facilities for part of temporary occupants of private property who will not be provided for
until the end of the year through the first two models – construction of alternative housing units or lease
of APN property, in order to ensure repossession of property for the majority of owners of occupied
property before the end of the year.
Certain number of state-owned apartments should also be available until the end of the year in certain
municipalities and towns where the revison of occupants of state property is currently conducted by the
Ministry, as well as of APN-houses whose beneficiaries were checked during this summer. Ministry is
issuing eviction orders to occupants who do not have right to housing. Such procedures have been
initiated by the Ministry last year against a small number of occupants.
Beside that, Ministry will offer contracts on lease to owners of empty or occupied property which had
not been taken over by them after eviction of temporary occupants or which had not been laid claims to
by them-300 owners were interested in lease to date. A survey among owners is currently conducted by
the SDF in cooperation with the Ministry.
Beside the above mentioned measures, repossession of property until the end of the year will be
finished in the majority of counties, like Bjelovarsko-bilogorska, Požeško-slavonska, Virovitičko-
podravska and Brodsko-posavska, as well as in counties with a small number of occupied property -
Dubrovačka, Splitsko-dalmatinska and Istarska. All occupied property in Vukovarsko-srijemska and
Osječko-baranjska counties had been earlier repossessed. This process will be to the great extent
concluded in Sisačko-moslavačka and Karlovačka counties as well, except for several municipalities –
Sunja, Vojnić. Majority of occupied property will remain in the territory of Šibensko-kninska County
and the town of Knin, Zadarska and Ličko-senjska counties.
Ministry will ensure repossession of the majority of the remaining occupied property through the above
stated measures until the end of 2003, primarily property which had been laid claims to by their owners
– 2,766 occupied housing units on 01 October 2003. Through the above stated measures
6. Empty property – management and issue of its devastation
Ministry is implementing simultaneously repossession procedures of still occupied property claimed for
repossession by their owners and legally prescribed procedures of repossession and taking over of
vacated property whose owners did not apply for repossession and did not take over the repossessed
proerty. There are 4,000 empty housing units at the moment whose owners did not apply for
repossession and Ministry in cooperation with NGO's and other state bodies is trying to identify and
find them. A decision is issued on repossession of property and until the owner is found and the
repossession takes place Ministry is responsible for it and it has the obligation to appoint temporary
representative – that is the nearest social welfare center according to the law. More than 1,000 such
housing units which have been vacated and have no owner to claim them have been taken over by the
Ministry which has a difficult taks of protection of property from further devastation.
In order to solve the problems relating to protection of empty property from further devastation and
looting Ministry has established and intensified cooperation with other bodies of state administration, in
this year in particular, primarily with the Ministry of Interior, as well as with NGO's. Ministry takes
legal action and procedures for compensation of damage through State Attorney's Office against those
occupants who devastate the property which they are vacating. Several such proceedings for
compensation of damage and criminal responsibility of perpetrators have already been instituted in
Sisačko-moslavačka and Brodsko-posavska counties. In each case when the information is given on
attempt to devastate the property received either from owners or other persons or NGO's, Ministry's
regional offices contact police immediately which reacts on each report without delay.
nekoliko takvih postupaka za naknadu štete i kaznenu odgovornost počinitelja na područjima Sisačko-
7. Complementary programs
In order to ensure more efficient implementation of repossession of property complementary activities
and programs are undertaken simultaneously:
• Exchange of data on property of temporary occupants in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the
authorized B-H Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees and other international organizations and
direct donors in B-H. Exchage of data began in second half of 2001.
• Assistance in return of refugees to B-H who are still residing in Croatia and who want to return to
B-H through direct assistance from the Croatian Government in reconstruction of damaged and
destroyed family houses owned by B-H returnees in RC. Croatian Budget provided 20 million KN
in 2002 and 2003 for the implementation of reconstruction program in B-H.
• Revision of use of state-owned property in areas of special state concern – APN-houses and state-
owned apartments whose occupants qualify for lease of state-owned property. The aim of these
activities was to ensure better and more efficient management of the existing housing as well as to
provide additional units for housing.
• Housing program in areas of special state concern.
• Continuation of reconstruction of housing as well as utility and social infrastructure in areas of
return in Croatia, financed from the Croatian Budget and to a smaller extent from international
donations, which will create physical conditions for sustainability of the entire return process.
These programs will be discussed in other chapters of this report, except for the exchange of data with
Exchange of data with B-H
As already noted, beside illegal occupants of private property and occupants whose homes in Croatia
have been reconstructed, temporary occupants who are found to have no right to housing because they
own habitable property in B-H are receiving eviction orders as well. Data on such cases together with
credible MPWRC documents are submitted by the authorized B-H Ministry for Human Rugts and
Refugees, though they have only a limited data and capabilities to deliver them. Data obtained from
international organizations in B-H, including HVM-an organization authorized by OHR ih B-H to
inspect property of refugees and returnees are also used as source of information because they possess a
vast quantity of data on refugees beside local B-H authorities. Since part of information obtained from
these organizations are not supported by necessary documents, additional inspections and necessary
documents are obtained through Croatian Consulate in Banja Luka or through B-H Ministry.
In regard to data obtained from HVM –which has been cooperating with MPWRC for a long period of
time on the subject of inspection of state of property of refugees and returnees, MPWRC received from
HVM at the end of April data on 397 cases of finished reconstruction and repossession of property in B-
H claimed to belong to refugees occupying private property in Croatia. HVM delivered data earler for a
smaller number of cases which in total amount to 480.
After MPWRC processed the data submitted by HVM, only a small number of them were found to
occupy private property – total of 116 families, whereas other cases related to temporary occupants who
have already vacated occupied property or to other refugees who are or have been occupying state-
owned property or are using other forms of accommodation or to persons who have applied for housing
while not occupying either private or state-owned property. MPWRC has issued orders of eviction to
several of such occupants, while extra inspections are conducted in B-H for the rest of them through
official channels in order to obtain necessary documentation. Namely, HVM has not submitted
necessary documents for the majority of cases, but information only, which is very important for the
Ministry since it serves as a basis for initiaton of a procedure to obtain official confirmation. These
documents are particularly important for eviction of temporary occupants of private property as well as
in cases when they refuse to move out and legal proceedings are instituted against them by State
Measures for acceleration of the process of repossession of pro perty until
the end of 2003 - proposal
In order to accelerate the existing dynamics of solving of the remaining cases of occupied property and
to ensure repossession of the majority of 4,349 housing units, following measures should be
a) Accelerate purchase of habitable housing units by APN, especially in the territory of Šibensko-
kninska and Zadarska counties. Monthly dynamics until the end of the year should be approx. 400
objects. Task of APN.
b) Accelerate deliveries of construction material, primarily to occupants of private property who have
began receiving construction material or preparations for the deliveries are underway – currently
1,008 occupants of private property. Task: Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and
Construction – Directorate for Displaced Persons, Returnees and Refugees.
c) Accelerate connecting of constructed and reconstructed alternative housing units to electric power
network. Task: Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction – Directorate for
Displaced Persons, Returnees and Refugees, i.e. umbrella supervision, and Croatian Electric Power
d) Accelerate instituting of legal proceedings through the State Attorney's Office for eviction of
occupants upon request by the Ministry. Task: State Attorney's Office.
e) Provide sufficient number of housing units to be rented by the Ministry from private persons. Task:
Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction – Directorate for Displaced Persons,
Returnees and Refugees .
f) Appoint temporary representatives for 1,505 occupied housing units which have not been laid
claims to by owners until the end of the year. Task: Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and
Construction – Directorate for Displaced Persons, Returnees and Refugees.
Eviction of temporary occupants from 2,766 housing units claimed for repossession by owners and
actual repossession of property would be ensured by implementation of these measures through
1) Implementation of orders for eviction of 246 illegal occupants of propery claimed for
repossession by owners;
2) Provision of housing i.e. alternative accommodation for at least 1,770 temporary occupants of
private property. Among these ocuupied housing units 412 are currently being sold to APN, since
owners offered them for sale to APN in the meantime.
3) Completion of deliveries of construction material and construction of alternative housing units
for 750 occupants who will vacate the occupied property claimed for repossession as soon as alternative
housing is available.
total of solutions of repossession 66% of currently occupied property.
The rest of property which has not been claimed for repossession would be solved through appointment
of temporary representatives and then the repossession would ensue for 1,505 occupied housing units –
If the above stated measures are undertaken, repossession of property will be concluded in the majority
of counties, for example in Bjelovarsko-bilogorska, Požeško-slavonska, Virovitičko-podravska and
Brodsko-posavska counties, as well as in counties with small number of cases of occupied property like
Dubrovačka, Splitsko-dalmatinska and Istarska. All private property had been repossessed before in
Vukovarsko-srijemska and Osječko-baranjska counties. This process will be to the great extent
concluded in Sisačko-moslavačka and Karlovačka counties as well, except for several municipalities –
Sunja, Vojnić. Majority of occupied property will remain in the territory of Šibensko-kninska County
and the town of Knin, Zadarska and Ličko-senjska counties.
II. Program of housing
in areas of special state concern
1. Law on areas of special state concern –criteria and models of housing
According to the Law on areas of special state concern – revised text ("Official Gazette", No. 26/03)
following models of housing in areas of special state concern have been envisaged:
lease of a state-owned family house or apartment,
lease of damaged state-owned house and allocation of construction material,
allocation of a state-owned construction land and construction material for construction of a family
allocation of construction material for repairs, reconstruction or construction of a family house or
Right to housing can be realized if
(i) temporary occupants do not own or co-own a family house or apartment in the territory of the
Republic of Croatia, if they have not sold them, gave them away or alienated in any other way
after 08 October 1991, i.e. if they have not acquired the legal status of a protected lessee,
(ii) if they do not own or co-own a family house or an apartment in the territory of states established
after the disintegration of ex-SFRY, or if they have not sold them, gave them away or alienated
in any other way after the 08 October 1991, i.e. if they have not acquired the status of a protected
Right to allocation of basic construction material can be realized exceptionally by Croatian citizens
who are residing outside areas of special state concern and who own a family house or an apartment
damaged in the war in such areas, under the condition that they do not own any other habitable family
house or apartment, that they have not sold them or alienated in any other way after 08 October 1991,
under the condition that they will return to such house or apartment and reside in them.
In case of temporary occupants of private property, majority of whom are from B-H and S&MN who
have to fulfil another condition as well in order to obtain right to housing, provisions on temporary
accommodation will be applied in a considerable number of cases, to which they are entitled until
conditions are created for their return or for repossession of their property. Temporary accommodation
is possible in state-owned property smaller in area than necessary according to standards, or in property
rented by the Ministry.
In regard to housing, latest amendments of the Law envisage that the priority is given to temporary
occupants of property claimed for repossession, then other returnees and occupants in areas of special
state concern who do not have their own property would be provided for. Namely, the law determined
following order of priority in housing (Article 8.b): 1) temporary occupants of private property claimed
for repossession and use, 2) other temporary occupants of private property, 3) other applicants for
housing who will be placed on priority lists according to the set of rules made by the Ministry as
prescribed by the law.
Based on the Law on areas of special state concern regulatory implementation acts have also been
brought: (i) Rules on the order of priority in housing in areas of special state concern (OG, No. 116/02)
brought in September 2002, by which applicants for housing from the third category are placed on
priority lists, (ii) Decree on Conditions and Terms for Housing in areas of special state concern which
elaborates details relating to signing of constracts on lease of state-owned houses and apartments,
contracts on allocation of construction land and/or construction material, and (iii) Decree on conditions
for purchase of a state owned family house or apartment in areas of special state concern ("Official
Gazette", No. 48/03) which serves as operational act for implementation of the Article 8, paragraph 9 of
the Law on areas of special state concern.
2. Housing – realized until September 2003
Ministry ensured housing in the period from the beginning of 2002 to the end of September according
to the Law on areas of special state concern for a total of 4,8 89 beneficiary families (18,647
persons) in one of the following ways:
i. lease of state-owned house or apartment – 2,235 families
(APN-houses 1,868, state-owned apartments 367),
ii. allocation of construction material for reconstruction of damaged state-owned or private houses,
or for construction on private or state-owned land for total of 2,440 families, among which
construction of houses and delivery of construction material is underway for 1,008 of them
iii. temporary accommodation in MPWRC facilities for 214 families
Since September last y ear only housing was provided for 3,326 families due to accelerated
dynamics of implementation of housing program in comparison to the previous period. Out of that
number construction of housing units is underway for 1,008 of them and they will vacate occupied
However, achieved acceleration in housing program is still below the envisaged dynamics necessary for
solving of all remaining temporary occupants who are still residing in occupied property.
It is the intention of the Ministry to provide housing through the above stated models for the majority of
remaining 2,668 temporary occupants of private property in order to ensure repossession of property.
Since right to temporary housing has been approved for the majority of the remaining beneficiaries –
2,133 families, they will be provided for through lease of state-owned property – APN-houses and state-
owned apartments, or through temporary accommodation in Ministry's facilities or in property rented
from private persons. Remaining 535 families can be provided for through delivery of construction
material since it has been checked that they have no other property.
Purchase of approx. 3,060 houses by APN as well as of 2,008 sets of construction material required for
housing of all temporary occupants who occupied private property at the beginning of 2003 was
envisaged for this year, that is total of 5,068 housing units.
Funds for implementation of this program have been planed from the following sources:
• 490 million KN (67 mil. EUR) from the State Budget and other Government's sources,
• 292 million KN (40 mil. EUR) from the new CEB loan approved in March this year,
total of 782 million KN (107 million EUR.
Out of 3,000 houses envisaged for purchase by APN, 1,566 have been purchased to date (300 houses
purchased in the last quarter of 2002 are included), deliveries of construction material are underway for
757 beneficiaries, whereas 368 beneficiaries have received all envisaged construction material and
finished reconstruction of their housing units.
Among them Ministry paid financial supports at the beginning of October for individual construction
determined by the Law on areas of special state concern to 216 beneficiaries who have received
construction material, finished construction of their objects and abandoned the occupied property –
10,000.00 KN for reconstruction of damaged housing units or 15,000.00 KN for construction of new
housing objects i.e. reconstruction of damaged objects which sustained greatest degree of damage –
total of 2,6 million KN. These beneficiaries also received contracts on allocation of construction
material in September.
Contracts on lease with beneficiaries of housing in state-owned property are also under preparation,
however this procedure will last longer for the majority of allocated property because of the procedure
of registration of deeds and ensuring of technical preconditions necessary to determine protected rent
for beneficiaries of such property.
Since funds from the new CEB loan are still not available, funds provided from the Croatian State
Budget have been used to date for provision of housing in this year. Majority of CEB funds will be
drawn in the next year.
Due to slow implementation of the part of program which relates to allocation of construction material
in comparisong to the originally planned dynamics, all beneficiaries will not be able to finish
construction of their housing units until the end of this year. There are at the moment 1,000 temporary
occupants with approved allocation of construction material, and another 500 families which are
waiting either for the construction land to be prepared for works or for the damaged APN-objects.
Reason for slower implementation of this part of the program lies primarily in slow pace of delivery of
construction material and preparation of construction land for construction works i.e. in fact that
municipal plans have not been yet made, thus a little more than 750 current occupants of private
property have received construction material.
As far as purchase of houses by APN are concerned, the average rate in this year has been below 200
housing units per month, which is below the envisaged dynamics. This is because of the situation on the
real-estate market as well as additional slowing down in purchases during summer when the scope of
work of supporting services is reduced (land registry, etc.).
As already stated in the chapter on repossession of property, part of beneficiaries who will not be
provided with permanent solution until the end of this year will be temporarily housed elsewhere in
order to ensure vacating and repossession of as many occupied housing units as possible until the end of
the year. Permanent housing according to provisions of the Law on areas of special state concern will
not be ensured for these beneficiaries before the next year.
After temporary occupants of private property are provided with housing through the housing program,
housing units will be provided for the remaining returnees and inhabitants of areas of special state
concern in need of housing and in conformity with the Rules on the order of priority in housing in areas
of special state concern ("Official Gazette", No. 116/02) brought in September 2002.
APN – purchase of housing units for housing of beneficiaries
Real-estate agency (APN) was established by the Croatian Government in 1997 and was entrusted with
purchase of real estate in areas which were engulfed by the war and for which no market demand
existed and which was damaged in part. The main activity of APN is purchase of real-estate for the
Croatian Government, which can then be sold or rented. Among other, APN is purchasing property in
areas of special state concern which has been in direct connection with the implementation of the
program of return, i.e. with the implementation of the Law on ares of special state concern and housing
program since 2001.
APN had purchased real estate earlier with the approval of housing commissions, and after they were
cancelled, APN needed approval from the Directorate for Displaced Persons, Returnees and Refugees
of the Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction.
Total of 6,624 housing units have been purched through APN to date, among which total of 2,678
housing units were purchased between 2000 and end of September 2003, i.e. 1,266 houses were
purchased in this year. APN has been purchasing property needed for housing of temporary occupants
of private property since 2001.
Total of 367 housing units were purchased in 2000, whereas purchase of 1,045 houses in 2001 and 2002
(318 in 2001, and 727 in 2002) was for the most part financed from the CEB loan for the 2000 (670
housing units), others which were bought at the end of 2002 were financed from the State Budget
according to the new CEB program for 2002. This year 1,266 houses have been bought (32 in January,
79 in February,148 in March, 61 in April, 249 in May, 196 in June, 271 in July,37 in August and 193 in
September). Housing units purchased in areas of special state concern since 2001 have been used for
housing of temporary occupants who must vacate private occupied property.
Purchase of 3,060 housing units by APN has been envisaged in 2003 for the purpose of housing,
including the housing units bought in the last quarter of 2002. Out of that number 1,960 housing units
were planned to be bought with CEB loan funds for 2002 (50% CEB loan funds and 50% budgetary
funds), and 1,100 housing units with budgetary funds only. Out of that number only half of housing
units have been bought to date – 1,566 until mid-September 2003. Avarage purchase dynamics is below
200 housing units a month, which is considerably below the houses a month envisaged by the program.
Particularly small number of purchased housing units is in the territory of Šibensko-kninska and
Zadarska counties (Knin, Obrovac and Benkovac), where the need for housing is most prominent.
APN invited tenders for sale of real-estate in areas of special state concern in spring 2002. Currently
there are 5,000 housing units offered for sale to APN.
When the tenders are analyzed they have to contain data on value appraisal and on the legal status of
property accompanied with necessary documentation (land registry certificate, photographs and
appraisals of property value by authorized court appointed experts). The main problem which occurs
during purchase of real-estate is submitting proofs on ownership due to disorder in land-registry books,
which hinders the purchase. Beside that purchase is considerably hindered by uncleared property titles
and implementation of inheritance procedures, as well as by the situation in the real-estate market.
Among houses purchased by APN, 4,464 have been moved in to date, whereas 1,966 are empty, among
which 670 housing units are in the territory unfit to live in, and 1,296 are either damaged or destroyed
housing units. Total of 578 damaged housing units have been used to date, and housing beneficiaries
have been delivered the construction material for their reconstruction which is in majority of cases still
underway. Ministry has prepared projects for total of 500 housing units: reconstruction projects for
damaged housing units i.e. construction projects for destroyed ones.
At the end of 2001, Ministry conducted revision of use of property purchased by APN, the results of
which served as basis for initiation of eviction procedures and cancellation of contracts on lease with
those lessees whose homes were reconstructed. Revision was done again this year – more about it will
be said in the chapter 4 dealing with management of the state property.
3. CEB and Croatian Government's loan programs for provision of housing
CEB 2000 program for reconstruction and repossession of propert y, and housing:
CEB approved a loan amounting 30 million EUR in 2000 to the Croatian Government, while the same
amount was provided from the Croatian State Budget, for reconstruction of damaged housing (58,33%
of funds), housing of families of temporary occupants of property claimed for repossession (31,17% of
funds) and for reconstruction of infrastructure (9,5% of funds). These funds were used in 2001 and
Total of 1,145 housing units and 22 infrastructurer facilities have been reconstructed through this
program. Total of 1,092 families of temporary occupants who had vacated occupied property were
provided with housing, which enabled repossession of property - housing was provided in houses
bought by APN (670) and through allocation of construction material (422). NGO's SDF and ZUNH
(Association of Bosnian Croat Settlers and Immigrants) conducted evaluation of the housing component
of the loan to serve the CEB.
CEB 2002 program for repossessi on of property and housing: Croatian Governments
received approval for another CEB loan in March 2003 for financing of the new housing project worth
approx. 80 million EUR (584,702,000 KN),the half of which would be obtained from the CEB loan, and
the other half from the Croatian State Budget. Loan funds will be used in 2003 and 2004.
Project entitled "Sustainable return of displaced persons and refugees: repossession of property and
housing" builds upon the previous CEB project component dealing with the repossession of property
and housing. Approx. 3,968 housing units are envisaged by it for alternative accommodation of
temporary occupants of private property and thus for repossession of property by rightful owners as
soon as possible.
The project should provide for the following:
(i) purchase of 1,960 family houses by the State real-estate agency APN, which would then be
rented to beneficiaries of housing,
(ii) supply of 2,008 sets of construction material for reconstruction of damaged family houses and
apartments either owned by the State or private (328), and for construction of family houses on
state-owned or private construction land (1,680),
(iii) subsidy for individual construction – cofinancing of reconstruction or construction of total of
2,008 housing units envisaged by this project, as well as of additional 422 housing units
constructed through the previos CEB 2000 project – total of 2,430 subsidies for individual
(iv) utility conncetions and supporting infrastructure for 2,430 housing units either constructed or
reconstructed through this project and CEB 2000 project,
(v) consultant services, projects, supervision and revision of documentation for 2,008 housing units
which will be either constructed or reconstructed through this project.
This project will have direct effect on creation of conditions for sustainable return of approx. 3,968
refugee families, mostly returnees from S&MN and B-H into repossessed property in 10 counties which
were engulfed by the war. At the same time housing of approx. 4,370 families of temporary occupants
will be provided. These are mostly refugees from B-H who will vacate the private property and then
they will be permanently provided for and locally integrated. In this way project will ensure sustainable
final solution for the total of 8,358 returnee and refugee families, i.e. 32,200 ethnic Serbs and Croats.
4. Management of state-owned housing – revision of apartments, CARDS project
Latest amendments of the Law on areas of special state concern contain measures for more efficient
management and control of use of state-owned housing. Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and
Construction conducted revision of property owned by APN at the end of 2001, which was done again
this year in August and September. Revision of use of state-owned apartments is also underway. Both
revisions established whether temporary occupants had or did not have right to housing and lease of
state-owned property in conformity with the latest amendments of the Law on areas of special state
concern. Registration of deeds owned by the State in the land registry is also under way in areas of
special state concern since it had not been conducted before.
Out of the state-owned property additional housing is provided for temporary occupants of private
property and ex-tenancy right holders.
At the end of 2001, Ministry conducted revision of use of property purchased by APN – total of 4,600
housing units purchased until mid-2001, the results of which served as basis for initiation of eviction
procedures and cancellation of contracts on lease with those lessees whose homes were reconstructed.
Ministry conducts second revision in August and September of the APN-property which had been
purchased before 2001, total of 4,313 housing units, in order to establish if current occupants have right
to use of such property according to the Law on areas of special state concern because right of these
occupants to use of state-owned property was not confirmed according to this Law through procedure
already conducted by the Ministry. Contracts on lease will be cancelled with those occupants who do
not have right to housing and they will have to move out of property.
Eviction procedures was initiated in mid-2002 against approx. 450 occupants of state-owned apartments
and APN-houses whose own property was reconstructed. Proceedings will be initiated against more
occupants whose right to housing is not approved according to provisions of latest amendments of the
Law on areas of special state concern.
Revision of state-owned apartments is conducted in cooperation with the Croatian Privatization Fund
which determines which property is owned by the State, whereas the Ministry establishes right of
temporary occupants to lease of state-owned property. Unconfirmed and unregistered ownership of a
large number of apartments in areas of special state concern poses a special problem.
Registration of state-own apartments into land-registry is carried out by the Ministry for Public Works,
Reconstruction and Construction in cooperation with the Croatian Privatization Fund and State
Attorney's Office. Registration procedure for 3,600 apartments in Vukovar is entering the final stage. It
is carried out by the Privatization Fund after it is established that it is state-owned property (formerly
owned by the "Foot and rubber factory Borovo"). Preparatory activities for registration of apartments
are also conducted in Sisačko-moslavačka county with participation of a NGO "ASB" through one of
the projects of CARDS 2001 program. These activities will continue successively in other parts of areas
of special state concern as well.
As far as houses purchased by APN are concerned, APN is currently conducting registration of
purchased property in land registry books as a state property. APN should also ensure that the area of
each property is measured which is a technical precondition for calculation of the protected lease
according to the Law on areas of special state concern.
After the property enters the land registry books as state-owned, contracts on lease will be signed which
determine right to housing according to the Law on areas of special state concern. Until contracts on
lease are issued occupants receive temporary approvals for accommodation in state-owned property.
Ministry has also initiated eviction procedures since this January against beneficiaries of organized
accommodation who refused to vacate the organized Ministry's facilities although their homes had been
The aim of these activities is to ensure better and more efficient management of the existing housing, as
well as to provide additional units for housing.
III. Housing of ex-tenancy right holders
1. Solution of cases of ex-tenancy right holders who are returning to areas of special state
With adoption of latest amendments of the Law on areas of special state concern in 2002, Croatian
Government defined program for housing of refugees who do not own either a house or an apartment,
but who lived in state-owned apartmens and who want to return or have already return to Croatia, to
areas of special state concern.
Mode and dynamics of solving of these cases have been envisaged in the program of housing in areas of
special state concern implemented by the Ministry, within the legal framework of the Law on areas of
special state concern ("Official Gazette", NO. 26/03, revised text) – according to the criteria and models
envisaged by that Law, as stated in the Chapter II: Program of housing in areas of special state
Since the solution of cases of the returning ex-tenancy right holders is not prioritized according to the
Law on areas of special state concern, the Government of RC brought a special conclusion this may
according to which housing of ex-tenancy right holders in areas of special state concern should begin
until September this year.
Solving of cases of ex-tenancy right holders who are permanently returning in areas of special state
concern has already began by granting right to housing through lease of state-owned apartments and
APN-houses in conformity with the Law on areas of special state concern. Since ex-tenancy right
holders are currently not treated separately from other beneficiaries of housing in areas of special state
concern, we are unable to give the accurate information on how many of them have already been
housed. Accurate data will be available by the end of the year. Necessary housing units will be provided
through activities described in Chapter II: Program of Housing in Areas of Special State Concern.
In regard to solution of cases of this category of refugees and returnees to areas of special state concern,
same application forms and procedure for establishment of right to housing will be applied as in cases
of beneficiaries outside areas of special state concern, as envisaged by the Ministry's Implementation
plan on housing of returnees who do not own either a house or an apartment, but who lived in state-
owned apartments in the territories of the Republic of Croatia which are outside areas of special state
concern brought on 12 July 2003. Media campaign to be launched by the Ministry during October this
year will include providing information to potential beneficiaries returning to areas of special state
2. Solving of cases of ex-tenancy right holders who are returning to areas of the Republic of
Croatia other than areas of special state concern
With the aim of facilitation of return of refugees to the Republic of Croatia who are ex-tenancy right
holders returning to areas of RC other than areas of special state concern, Croatian government brought
a Conclusion on the way of housing of returnees who do not own either a house or an apartment but
who lived in state-owned apartments (ex-tenancy right holders) in areas of the Republic of Croatia other
than areas of special state concern ("Official Gazette", No 100/03).
Thus the legal framework was established for solution of cases of ex-tenancy right holders who lived
outside areas of special state concern within the existing Croatian legislative system and positive
regulations, guided by the humanitarian aspect of situation in which all refugees from Croatia and ex-
tenancy right holders found themselves.
According to the Government's conclusion, Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and
Construction has been entrusted with realization of housing program the implementation of which was
elaborated in detail. They also prepared the implementation plan of housing of returnees who do not
own either a house or an apartments owned by the State outside areas of special state concern (in further
text: Implementation Plan) which was brought by the Minister for Public Works, Reconstruction and
Construction on 12 July 2003.
Preparatory activities for the implementation of the Government's Conclusion and Ministry's
Implementation Plan started immediately. Implementation Plan was delivered to representatives of
international community in Zagreb, who were consulted about its contents in order to ensure full
transparency of the program from the very beginning.
General preconditions for attainining right to housing set in the Government's conclusion were identical
to preconditions for housing determined by the Law on areas of special state concern as follows:
• Return: returnees who want to return and permanently reside in the Republic of Croatia, regardless
whether they are in or outside Croatia, or whether they were in Croatia all the time, will be housed.
• Property: the precondition for housing is that returnees do not own or co-own a family house or an
apartment in the territory of RC or in the territory of states established after the disintegration of ex-
SFRY, or that the same properties have not been sold, given away or alienated in any otherway after
08 October 1991, i.e. that they have not acquired the legal status of a protected lessee.
All returnees who fulfill the above stated preconditions will be housed.
Program envisages two housing models for ex-tenancy right holders:
a) Protected lease of a state-owned apartment outside areas of special state concern under the same
conditions as those applied for other ex-tenancy right holders who had not abandoned apartments
during war as well as for beneficiaries of the program of housing in areas of special state concern
(rent amounting less than 0.5 EUR/m2 ). The state will purchase apartments through APN or build
them through the program of subsidized housing construction (in further text: POS).
b) Purchase of a private apartment on the long-term instalment plan under favorable conditions in
conformity with the Law on subsidized housing construction.
Implementation of the housing program envisaged by the Implementation Plan
Based on these criteria, following contents, procedure and way of submitting of applications for
housing were elaborated as well as activities to be undertaken by the Ministry in order to implement the
1. Housing applications are submitted to the Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and
Construction – Directorate for Displaced Persons, Returnees and Refugees, in person or by mail
not later than 31 December 2004. It will be possible to submit applications to Croatian
diplomatic missions and consular posts or through UNHCR.
The Directorate made a standardized form of application for housing which will be distributed during
media campaign. Generally the application form should contain: (i) data on the ex-tenancy right holder
and members of his/her household including the data on their current residence; (ii) data on state-owned
apartment in which they had resided including the proof of their former residence in that apartment,
contract on the use of apartment, i.e. on granting the tenancy right, court decision; (iii) statement in
which they express their wish to return and live in RC; (iv) statement that they do not own any property
(house or apartment); (v) they should state the name of the place where they would like to return, (vi)
which form of housing they prefer – purchase of an apartment or lease).
The applicant is informed in writing whether he/she will be provided with housing and put on the list
for lease of a state-owned apartment. Applicant whose application can lodge a complaint to the special
committee for complaints appointed by the Minister for Public Works, Reconstruction and
Construction. Members of the Committee for complaints are representatives of the Ministry of Justice,
Administration and Local Self-governmenmt, State Attorney's Office and Ministry of Labor and Social
Welfare, and two joined members who represent town/municipality and regional administration
(counties). Up to three NGO's can observe the work of the Committee. Finaly the applicant bring a legal
action before the regular court against the Ministry in which he/she can demand to be housed.
2. Acquisition of apartments : Apartments for housing of returnees according to the Government's
Conclusion will be provided primarily through construction. According to the Government's decision of
12 June 2003 ("Official Gazette", No. 100/03) Ministry will on behalf of the Republic of Croatia
purchase a certain number of newly constructed apartments from APN on theinstallment and rent them
to returnees outside areas of special state concern.
Housing of returnees will primarily be provided in those areas of RC (municipalities and towns) where
they had permanently resided, i.e. used state-owned apartment. If that is not possible, appropriate
housing will be provided in other areas of RC, depending on the availability of habitable housing.
In areas other than areas of special state concern where no apartments will be build according to the
Law on subsidized housing construction, Ministry wil buy a certain number of apartments, depending
on needs and available resources, either from physical or juridical persons for the purpose of housing of
returnees. Ministry is authorized to manage, use and have purchased apartments at disposal, i.e. to rent
them to returnees.
Funds for purhase of apartments in conformity with the Government's Decision are provided from the
State Budget funds assigned to the Ministry, starting from 2004. Funds amounting 60 milliion KN for
construction i.e. acquisition of approx. 1,500 apatments to be used for housing of returnees are
envisaged in the Budget for 2004.
In general, for the purchase of every set of 100 POS-apartments of the average area of 60 m2 ,rented to
returnees, the State Budget should provide the following:
• for single payment of initial purchase deposit – approx. 800,000 EUR or 6 million KN,
• annually, for installments (up to 20 years) – approx. 250,000 EUR or 2 million KN.
Envisaged date of completion of housing is the end of 2006. However, this date will depend primarily
on the number of applications and available funds.
3. Implementation of the housing program contains following activities which are currently
being prepared and the implementation of which should start at the end of August 2003.
• Media campaign –providing information to potential beneficiaries
• Establishment of computerized system of survey and reporting on the course of the process
• Submission of housing applications
• Processing of requests, checking and issuing approvals of housing
• Establishment of a transparent appeal procedure (appeal by an appelant)
• Provision of necessary apartments/purchase of apartments for returnees
• Lease of apartments – signing lease agreements, i.e. saler of POS-apartments
• Establishment of the system of management and maintenance of apartments and apartment
• Establishment of the system of collection of rent and control of payment of rents and other rental
• Continual reports on the course of implementation
Implementation of the media campaign is planned to take place in Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro and
Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the majority of Croatian refugees are residing. Media campaign is
currently being prepared. In order to implement it support and assistance from international
organizations, primarily UNHCR as the international organization for refugees and other non-profit
NGO's is asked for. Public appeal will be announced at the beginning of September 2003 which will
mark the beginning of the campaign, the aim of which is to inform potential returness on possibilities of
their housing and return to Croatia.
Based on the submitted applications for housing, the Directorate will make a credible list of persons and
their families who will be provided with housing, determine the model of housing (ownership or lease)
as well as areas of housing, i.e. lists of municipalities and towns in which certain number of housing
units should be provided.
Ministry will elaborate operational aspect of the implementation of housing based on processed
applications for housing and determined credible list of persons. A special attention will be given to
number of persons and members of their families to be provided with housing, models of housing
(ownership or lease), areas of housing - municipalities and towns, appraisal of budgetary funds to be
provided for implementation of the Plan for each year, ending with 2006, plan of purchase i.e.
acquisition of housing units to be rented to returnees for each year, ending with 2006.
In conformity with the set operational plan, APN will, in cooperation with the Ministry, make the POS
implementation program for 2004, 2005 and 2006, for each town and municipality as well as program
for provision of housing in other areas where POS program will not be implemented. Ministry will
purchase apartments from APN in conformity with the operational plan and POS implementation
program, and according to the dynamics of construction of POS-apartments which will depend on needs
and available funds, whereas apartments will be purchased from other physical and juridical persons
exceptionally in those areas of RC where no POS-apartments will be constructed.
Housing of approx. 1,500 ex-tenancy right holders is envisaged in 2004. Approx. 60 million KN is
envisaged in the next year's State Budget for construction and purchase of apartments for housing of ex-
tenancy right holders.
The number of potential beneficiaries is still unknown because the Ministry has not yet started with the
procedure for submission of applications for housing. First results are expected by the end of 2003.
Since the aim is to obtain applications for housing as well as to inform all interested beneficiaries,
launching of media campaign is given the priority at this moment which should result in a sufficient
number of housing applications until the end of the year. The Directorate will mail direct notices with
housing applications forms to a small number of refugees in S&MN and B-H, as well as to returnees in
Croatia. As a body directly entrusted with care for returnees and for the return of refugees, the
Directorate has at their disposal applications for the return to Croatia signed by Croatian refugees
temporarily accommodated in S&MN and B-H, as well as the data on refugees who have already
returned to Croatia. Some of the applications and return registrations contain information that the
applicants are ex-tenancy right holders. Mailing of such notices is envisaged to start in October 2003 in
order to prepare and solve a sufficient number of applications for housing envisaged in 2004. At the
same time a media campaign launched in Croatia, and especially abroad, in S&MN and B-H, will be
directed toward submitting applications for housing and return of refugees. Preparations for the media
campaign are underway, which will be implemented in cooperation with UNHCR similar to the model
of media campaign conducted in 2001 on the issue of submitting reconstruction applications.
With the program of housing of ex-tenancy right holders Croatian Government completes the package
of legislative and administrative instruments and mechanisms relating to ensuring conditions for the
return of all refugees who want to return to Croatia.
IV. Reconstruction of housing and infrastructure
In the last three years, among other measures aimed at acceleration of return of displaced persons and
refugees undertaken in Croatia, reconstruction of housing and basic infrastructure by the Ministry for
Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction has been intensified, particularly for minority returnees.
Croatian Government ensured additional financing both from the Budget and from loans. Croatia
invested i.e. is investing approx. 3.99 billion KN in reconstruction of housing between 2000 and 2003,
spent on reconstruction of 28,340 housing units to date, which had been damaged or destroyed in the
war. Until now, total of 123,020 damaged and destroyed houses and apartments have been
reconstructed, for which 13.8 billion KN have been spent.
Croatian Government invests approx. 1.03 billion KN in reconstruction of 8,000 housing units in 2003.
It is estimated that the majority of beneficiaries of reconstruction this year are ethnic Serb returnees –
approx. 75% of 8,000 beneficiaries, whereas reconstruction program for the next year, which starts this
autumn expects the rise to 80%.
Among currently remaining 17,000 reconstuction claims remaining to be solved, 11,200 claims were
submitted in 2001 by Croatian refugees temporarily accommodated in S&MN and B-H. By now more
than 5.556 (33.9%) of these claims have been solved as eligible beneficiaries of reconstruction. Certain
number of housing untis have been already reconstructed or are currently under reconstruction.
1. Reconstruction of housing
According to the data obtained from the State Commission for inventorying and assessment of war
damage in the Republic of Croatia, approx. 196,000 housing units (family houses and apartments) have
been found damage in the war. Total of 123,020 houses and apartments damaged or destroyed in the
war have been reconstructed to date, for which approx. 13,8 billion KN have been spent.
Enclosed to the table:
Review of reconstruction of housing per year and per spent funds (Appendix 3)
Review of reconstruction of housing per county and applied reconstruction model (Appendix 4)
Out of the overall number of damaged housing units, not all of them will be reconstructed, since
estimated damage also relates to vacation houses, unihabited objects, objects under construction and
cases where an owner requests reconstruction of two or more objects (only one is reconstructed) or the
damaged property has been sold to somebody else, etc.
R eview of reconstructed objects according to applied m odels
35% Organized reconstruction IV-VI
Cash grants I-III
Assistance in construction m aterial
Organized repairs I-III
In regard to applied reconstruction models, majority of objects have been reconstructed:
• unrefundable loans in the period 1992-1995 before the Law on reconstruction was brought and
system of organized reconstruction was established by the State (beneficiaries took loans to
reconstruct their homes) – 42,798 objects (34.8%),
• organized reconstruction of hauses with higher degree of damage (IV-VI) – 40,478 objects (32.9%),
• grants for repairs of objects which sustained minor damage (I-III) – 24,381 objects (19.9%).
Beside programs of reconstruction and repairs, furnishing of households is also carried out: since 2000
with household movables (furniture), and in previous years with household movables or appropriate
2. Reconstruction of utility and social infrastructure
With the aim of more rapid return and development of war-affected areas, parallel to program of
reconstruction of housing units, programs of reconstruction of objects intended for public purposes are
implemented as well. More significant reconstruction of infrastructure began since 1998 when it
became obvious that reconstruction of mere housing stock was not enough for the return of people.
Unreconstructed infrastructure in some places even became an obstacle to the return. Reconstruction of
infrastructure has particularly been intensified since 2000, which can clearly be seen from the Budget
funds assigned for that purpose.
In areas of special state concern, state of infrastructure, especially public utilities, was unsatisfactory
even before the war. During the war and occupation of these areas, majority of these objects was either
destroyed or devastated, or it came out of function because it was not maintained and became useless.
Because of that, reconstruction of basic utilities and social infrastructure has predominantly
development character, since infrastructure objects have been constructed and infrastructure
connections have been brought even to the areas where they had not previously existed.
Reconstruction and construction of utility infrastructure: Program of reconstruction and construction of
utility infrastructure encompases reconstruction and rehabilitation of utility infrastructure objects either
damaged or destroyed in the war. Reconstruction activities in the period from the 2000 to date included
total of 194 objects. Out of that number reconstruction and rehabilitation have been completed on 113
objects in the value of 140,303,739.60 KN, whereas the works on 81 objects worth 64,464,817.60 KN
are still under way.
The principle of priority of the objects to be reconstructed are determined by the county authorities
based on needs of municipalities and cities within their territory, and under condition that thay have all
necessary technical documentation required for the carrying out of works.
Review of reconstruction of utility infrastructure objects from the 2000 to 30 June 2003, in
areas of special state concern (Appendix 5).
Reconstruction of schools: War damage has been registered on 334 schools. Total of 190 objects
have been completely reconstructed to date and handed-over for use, which costapprox.600 million KN.
Reconstructed objects are furnished with the necessary equipment and furniture.
Reconstruction of schools is carried out according to two programs. The first program is based
exclusively on State Budget funds, and 127 schools have been reconstructed so far according this
program, whereas works on other 3 objects are still under way. The second program is implemented via
both Budget funds and loan from the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) in equal shares.
Total of 53 objects have been reconstructed so far according to this program, whereas works on another
10 are in the closing phase. Also, preparation of the next CEB V program is under way, which will
include reconstruction and construction works on 140 schools, in the envisaged value of 976 million
KN. Priorities in reconstruction of schools are decided upon by the Ministry of Education and Sports.
Review of reconstruction of schools in areas of special state concern (Appendix 6).
3. Participation of international donations in reconstruciton
International organizations have contributed with donated funds either repairs or reconstruction
ofapprox.10,000 housing objects in the Republic of Croatia, among which the majority relates to repairs
of family houses with lower degrees of damage. Total contribution of the international community to
the reconstruction in Croatia amounts to 7,5%.
However, particular contribution of the European Union has to be stressed here not only in the sense of
help to the overall reconstruction of the housing stock and infrastructure damaged in the war – with
donations worthapprox.385 million EUR, which were invested into various assistance programs until
the end of 2002 European Commission is the biggest donator in Croatia so far. Since 1996 the ASB/EC
organization (Arbeiter Samaritaner-Bund) from Germany, which is the chief implementation partner of
the EC in Croatia, has participated in the reconstruction of houses which sustained various degrees of
damage through programs of assistance OBNOVA and CARDS. ASB/EC reconstructs the houses of
various damage degrees in full compliance with the Croatian reconstruction standards. Compared to all
other donors, ASB reconstructs the largest number of housing objects every year.
Beside ASB, reconstruction of family houses which sustained higher degrees of damage is also carried
out to a smaller extent by the NPA (Norwegian People's Aid) and SHA/SDC (Swiss Agency for
Development and Cooperataion/Swiss Humanitarian Aid), which are both government organizations.
Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Technische Zusammenarbeit – GTZ, another government organization,
participated in the housing program with construction of 25 family houses for temporary
accommodation in Gračac.
Partnership agreements have been signed with the major donors that participate in the Program of
reconstruction and return: ASB/EC, SHA/SDC, NPA, GTZ mentioned above, and ADRA, THW, IRC,
ARC, and USAID (USA). The aim of signing of these agreements is establishment of co-ordination in
planning and implementation of the reconstruction and repair works, as well as exchange of data and
information important for the program of reconstruction and return.
Assistance in the return of refugees and displaced persons is a significant segment of the CARDS
program, which puts stress on economic revitalization and creation of conditions for sustainable
development in areas of return. European Commission allocated 52.2 million EUR in the period 2001-
2003 for development of areas engulfed by the war, and additional 13 million EUR have been
envisaged for these purposes in the CARDS program for 2004.
4. Reconstruction of housing in period 2000-2003
Reconstruction activities carried out in the period 2000-end of 2003, envisaged reconstruction of 30,000
housing units, among which 28,400 have been finished to date and handed over to owners. This enabled
return of 85,600 persons. All beneficiaries of the reconstruction received household movables
(furniture) for basic furnishing of their households.
Od tog ukupno predviđenog broja u razdoblju od 2000. godine do sada obnovljeno je ukupno 28.400
kuća i stanova čime je omogućen povratak za 85.000 osoba. Svi korisnici kojima je završena obnova
njihovih kuća i stanova dobili su također predmete kućanstva za osnovno opremanje domaćinstva
Reconstruction of the remaining housing units will be finished for the most part by the end of October
2003, when reconstruction of family houses which sustained highes degrees of damage will be finished.
Model of organized reconstruction has been applied in these cases.
Following needs to be stressed:
• Domestic and foreign loans have been used in this period to a greater extent for the first time.
• Inherited debts to contractors have been repaid, mostly in the 2000, because of which the extent of
the overall reconstruction was reduced;
• Payment of grants and return of funds privately invested in reconstruction have been significantly
updated. Until the 2000, total of 12,772 grants for repairs were paid,approx.200 refunds of privately
invested money were made, and in the period 2000-2003 total of 9,518 grants for repairs and as
much as 3,100 refunds of privately invested money were made.
• Due to increased scope of reconstruction works all previous priority lists have been cancelled and
waiting for any kind of model has been shortened. Beneficiaries' objects included into the program
of organized reconstruction are introduced into the reconstruction works not later than one year
from the period of issuing of the reconstruction decision.
Beside the stated physical indicators of implementation of the reconstruction program, even more
significant progress has been made in the procedure for approving reconstruction and in the
transparency of the whole process:
• Priority lists have been cancelled and all objects of beneficiaries are introduced into the
reconstruction works not later than one year from the date of issuing of the reconstruction decision
• Amendments and supplements to the Law on Reconstruction of the 2000 cancelled and changed
provisions which had or could have had a discriminatory character toward any of the beneficiaries
of reconstruction. Furthermore the procedure has been equaled and issuing of decisions on
reconstruction in all state administration offices on county level authorized for reconstruction
activities has been accelerated.
• Media campaign on final dates of submission of reconstruction applications set on 31 December
2001 has been successfully conducted in the country and abroad in cooperation with the UNHCR
office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the media campaign, approx.26,000 applications for
reconstruction were received, majority of which was submitted by the Croatian refugees
accommodated in SCG (16,383) and BIH (1,300) mostly ethnic Serbs.
• Administrative and bureocratic approach has been significantly reduced as well as possible
obstructions to the issuing of decisions.
• Co-operation and co-ordination of work with international donors which participate in the program
of reconstruction and return have been intensified, and nine partnership agreements have been
signed for that purpose.
• Coordination and cooperation has been improved with NGO's which were included into the
reconstruction program, particularly with organizations and associations (Croatian Association of
Displaced Persons and Returnees, Serb Democratic Forum-SDF, Dalmatian Board of solidarity-
DOS, and others).
5. Solving of the remaining applications for reconstruction in 2003
According to data obtained fro state administration offices in charge of reconstruction activities, approx.
17,000 unsolved applications for reconstruction remained, which is the total of all remaining potential
beneficiaries of reconstruction. These are applications for which no decision on reconstruction has been
brought nor have any reconstruction or repair activities been carried out on them so far.
Among them approx. 11,200 applications were submitted in 2001, mostly in Serbia and Montenegro
and Bosnia and Herzegovina by Croatian refugees who are still outside Croatia, the remaining 5,800
applications were submitted between 1997 and 1999- among which only a small number can be solved
in a positive way since applicants are neither owners of damaged housing objects nor did they reside in
objects claimed for reconstruction, like for example in weekend houses, objects under construction, etc.
Beside the stated number, another approx. 5,500 applications have been registered, for property which
was reconstructed or repaired by owners themselves (who are now requesting refunds of costs of
reconstruction) or by international donors, as well as a small number of duplicated applications and
those submitted after the expiry of deadline for submission, applications for furnishing, etc.
Total of 16,383 reconstruction requests were submitted in SCG in 2001, with following current status:
• 4,826 decisions on reconstruction have been issued (part of them has already been introduced into
the reconstruction program and activities), whereas approx.another 730 have been included into
various donor reconstruction programs – total of 5,556 (33.9%) solved applications.
• in 4,006 cases of incomplete requests (24.5%) county offices of state administration forwarded
notices through SDF to the applicants on necessary completion of applications with clearly stated
data and proofs which were missing in each of the applications;
• 3,283 applicants (20%) decided for payment of money equivalent of reconstruction of the hosing
objects, instead for reconstruction. They were forwarded through SDF notices with precise
explanations of the "reconstruction-money exchange" procedure;
• In case of 3,543 applications (21.6%) residence addresses of the applicants are unknown, SDF has
not found them on temporary addresses stated in reconstruction applications, discovering of their
whereabouts is underway.
Communication has been established in this way with all applicants for the reconstruction on known
addresses with the aim of more rapid collection of necessary proofs as well as issuing of decisions on
With the aim of solving of the remaining reconstruction applications following measures have been
• Data base containing reconstruction applications submitted in SCG has been organized in
cooperation with the UNHCR office and SDF, which serves for the monitoring of the procedure and
dynamics of issuing of decisions, as well as for the exchange of data.
• In cooperation with the UNHCR a priority in solving reconstruction applications has been given to
applicants temporarily accommodated in collective centers in SCG.
• Sending of notices to applicants who are residing in other states inside and outside Europe is under
• The Ministry, i.e. the Reconstruction Directorate in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice,
Administration and Local Self-Government authorized for operation and organization of county
offices of state administration held a meeting in March with heads of all county offices in order to
speed up the process of issuing of decisions and to unify procedures undertaken on the basis of the
• Number of employees engaged in the reconstruction activities has been increased in offices of state
administration, whereas over-time or extra-work is practiced in offices which have a greater number
or unsolved applications. They submit daily reports to the Ministry on the number of issued
decisions, and their work is regularly supervised by the Ministry services.
• Cooperation with NGO's has been intensified with the aim of more rapid and more efficient
communication with the beneficiaries of reconstruction.
• Completion of administration and legal proceedings relating to issuing of decisions based on
submitted reconstruction applications which have complete documentation (known temporary
residence address and reply of applicants to the required completion of documentation) is envisaged
till the end of the year. Bjelovarsko-bilogorska county office of state administration has already
completed the procedure of issuing of decisions, and the same is expected from the offices in
Splitsko-dalmatinska, Zagrebačka and Virovitičko-podravska counties. There is the greatest number
of unsolved cases in the Šibensko-kninska, Zadarska and Sisačko-moslavačka counties, which are
expected to conclude administrative and legal proceedings in March 2004 at the latest.
The result of undertaken activities is increased scope of issuing decisions on right to reconstruction,
particularly since the beginning of this year.
In the 2002, total of 15,175 decisions were issued – monthly average is 1,264 decisions. Since the
beginning of this year, total of 20,672 decisions have been issued, which is 36% more than total
decisions issued in the last year.
Increased scope of issuing of decisions has been specifically evident since the April this year, when
2,494 decisions were issued (compared to 1,148 decisions issued in April last year), 2,828 decisions
were issued in May, 2,913 in June, and 3,139 in July, 2,142 in August, and 2,632 in September. Total of
decisions issued in the period April-end of September this year is 15,897. Monthly average rate of
issuing decisions is expected to stay as high as approx. 3,000 decisions.
6. Implementation of the program of reconstruction of housing in 2003
Financial support paid from January to mid-September 2003 for total of 2,693 beneficiaries:
• Grants for repairs of damaged objects which sustained I-III degree of damage were paid to 2,094
beneficiaries, totaling 25,508,373.00 KN, whereas payment to approx.520 of beneficiaries is also
envisaged by the end of the year.
• Refunds of costs of reconstruction were paid to 599 beneficiaries, which amounted to
22,500,976.00 KN, whereas payment to another 200 beneficiaries is envisaged by the end of the
Organized reconstruction of family houses which sustained IV-VI degree of damage:
Reconstruction works on approx.3,300 objects are currently in closing phases, i.e. technical inspections
and handovers of reconstructed objects to their owners are underway. The problem in implementation
of the program lied in the fact that approx.500 beneficiaries were out of reach. For that reason SDF
mediated and assisted in our searh in order to contact the owners before the reconstruction of their
Organized reconstruction of apartments in apartment buildings. Reconstruction
ofapprox.1,600 damaged apartments in multiple apartment buildings has been planned in this year,
majority of which are in the city of Vukovar, then in Pakrac, Lipik, Gospić and Slunj. Reconstruction of
975 apartments is underway, whereas it 150 apartments have been reconstructed. Preparations are under
way for construction of the remaining 475 apartments.
Reconstruction program for the 2004 which should start at the beginning of autum 2003 envisages
reconstruction of approx.9,000 housing units of all degrees of damage, among which 4,000 family
houses which sustained higher degrees of damage will be included into organized reconstruction,
whereas 3,500 grants will be paid -grants for repairs and refunds of cost of reconstruction, and approx.
1,500 damaged apartments in multiple apartment buildings.
Croatian Government signed recently a agreement on loan with the European investment bank (EIB)
intended for the most part for intensification of reconstruction and construction of basic utility and
social infrastructure facilities in order to expediate return of the remaining refugees and displaced
persons, their stay in places of return as well as economic revitalization of war-affected areas. Total
value of the program is 100 million EUR, among which 50 million EUR are EIB loan funds, and
another half are Croatian State Budget funds.
Based on the remaining reconstruction applications and reconstruction envisaged for the next year, it is
our estimate that these activities will bring the program of reconstruction of housing units damaged in
the war considerably closer to completion by the end of the 2004, whereas the remaining number of
housing units will be reconstructed in the 2005, which will conclude to the entirety the program of
reconstruction of housing.
V. Return of refugees to and from Bosnia and Herzegovina
1. Implementation of the Croatian Government's program of assistance in return of Croats
to Bosnia and Herzegovina
Croatian Government's program of assistance in return of Croats to Bosnia and Herzegovia through
allocation of construction material for reconstruction of housing units damaged or destroyed in the war
was initiated at the end of 2001, and its implementation continued in 2002 and 2003.
Overall number of confirmed beneficiaries of RC assistance in reconstruction of housing units damaged
or destroyed in the war in B-H through construction material is:
1,223 beneficiary families with 4,560 family members.
Total of 347 houses damaged or destroyed in the war in B-H are reconstructed through the program
brought in 2001, which started in 2002 and continued in this year. Construction material has been
delivered completely for these beneficiaries, and they have finished reconstruction of their houses.
Housing units in the Bosnian Sava region, Banja Luka region and Central Bosnia were reconstructed
through the Croatian Government's program brought in 2001. Additional 450 beneficiaries of
construction material have been approved for reconstruction in B-H. Ministry prepared projects of
reconstruction for respective houses and delivery of construction material is underway.
A total of 431 beneficiaries of construction material were approved in the continuation of the Croatian
Government's program in 2002. Reconstruction and repair projects have already been prepared for all
beneficiaries, and suppliers of construction material were chosen after the public tenders were invited
for delivery contracts. Two suppliers of construction material have been chosen – one for the areas of
Bosnian Sava region and Central Bosnia (via Orašje border-crossing), and another for Banja Luka
region and Central Bosnia (via Stara Gradiška border-crossing). The first supplier started deliveries of
construction material during the summer to beneficiaries or to authorized nearest warehouses. In the
course of last two months deliveries for Banja Luka and Central Bosnia regions have not started as the
transfer of construction material has not been allowed over Stara Gradiška border-crossing.
The Ministry afterward approved additional 400 beneficiaries of construction material for
reconstruction of houses in B-H, who will also be included into recently initiated deliveries of
construction material. Making of reconstruction and repair projects is underway for their housing units.
Total value of agreed deliveries of construction material has been 60 million KN so far, which was
financed from the Croatian State Budget.
Beside implementation of the described program of direct assistance of RC in the return to Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Ministry has provided reconstruction and repair projects for another 36 housing units in
B-H for returnees from Croatia, which will be carried out by Swiss Confederation through its
organization SDC/SDR (Swiss Disaster Relief), i.e. SHA (Swiss Humanitarian Aid) since last year.
At the end of 2002 program of reconstruction and return of Croatian refugees in the territoriy of Plehana
in Bosnian Sava region implementated by UNDPR was finished. Program of return of 50 families,
worth 600,000 US$ was financed jointly by the Japanese Government (300,000 US$), Croatian
Government (150,000US$) and the B-H Ministers Council (Republic of Serbska – 150,000 US$).
2. B-H refugees in Croatia
Currently there are still 3,893 B-H refugees with status in Croatai, mostly from the Bosnian Sava region
and Banja Luka region: Croats (61% (2,394), Bosniaks 33% (1,281) and members of other ethnic
groups 6% (218).
Beside refugees still under Croatian protection, there are between 110,000 and 120,000 B-H citizens
residing in Croatia, who lost their refugee status as they obtained Croatian citizenship. Some of them
occupy private property claimed for repossession – 13,623 B-H and S&MN refugees/3,657 families.
The majority of those families are in need of housing after vacating the private property and they will
be solved through the housing program in Croatia, whereas a small number of them want to return to B-
H via return and reconstruction programs in B-H implemented by the Croatian Government.
3. Return of refugees to and from the Republic of Croatia and B-H
Return to Croatia. Total of 7,062 ethnic Serbs residing previously as refugees in Bosnia and
Herzegovina, returned to their homes in Croatia in the period 1995-01 October 2003. Among them 68%
of refugees (4,875 persons) returned during last three years, since the beginning of 2000.
Among the remaining applications for return to Croatia, 2,600 are filed by refugees residing in
B-H who have not returned to Croatia to date, although the majority of them received approvals for ther
return more than two years ago. A total of 227 repossession applications for property in Croatia have
been submitted to date by owners temporarily residing in B-H. Among them majority have been
repossessed, whereas repossession of property has to be carried out for 94 owners still residing in B-H.
Return to B-H. We do not have accurate data on return of refugees from Croatia to B-H, especially to
the Banja Luka and Bosnian Sava regions. Approx. 60,000 refugees who had their status in Croatia
returned in previous years to areas of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, mostly before 2000.
As far as the return to the Republic of Serbska is concerned, number of non-Serb returnees
was relatively small until 2002. For that reason, Croatian Government launched program of assistance
in reconstruction and return to B-H at the end of 2001 with the aim of acceleration of return to those
areas of B-H. Results will be visible as soon as this summer, when reconstruction of a greater number
of houses will be reconstructed through this program. For example, according to the the data from the
Banja Luka Bishopric Caritas, total of 1,702 refugees (873 families) returned until the beginning of
2002, out of total of 70,000 expelled and displaced Croats. According to the same sources, total of
5,000 ethnic Croats have returned to the entire area of the Republic of Serbska, including Bosnian Sava
region. This information from Caritas relates not only to returnees who were temporarily residing in
Croatia, but also to displaced persons who were accommodated in the territories of Fedration of B-H.
4. Cooperation between RC and B- H in refugee return programs
The Agreement on the Return of Refugees was signed in December 2001 between the Government of
the Republic of Croatia and the B-H Council of Ministers. In the course of last two years the Ministry
for Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction has intensified its cooperation with B-H Ministry
for human rights and refugees, especially by implementation of reconstruction and return projects in B-
H funded by Croatian Government, and exchange of data, with the aim of acceleration of return to the
neighboring state and solving of the remaining cases of Croatian refugees in B-H. Cooperation on data
exchange is related to the state of reconstruction and repossession of property owned by B-H refugees
still residing in Croatia, which is described in this report under the Repossession of Property chapter.
With regard to exchange of data, more has been achieved in exhange of data on the state of property of
refugees residing in Croatia, thanks to the Croatian intiative and use of alternative sources of data,
beside the official ones. However, data on refugees from Croatia still residing in B-H, primarily in the
territory of Republic od Serbska have not been delivered to the Croatian side in order to check the
number of persons and possibilities for their return.
Further progress in cooperation between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina relating to solution of all
remaining cases of refugees in both B-H and RC, in particular relating to exchange of data, is expected
when the joint commission of the two authorized ministries of the two states is established. Joint
commission should solve concrete issues of return to Croatia or Bosnia and Herzegovina. This form of
cooperation has been agreed upon during the last meeting of the two ministries, which took place in
July this year in Zagreb, based on mutual interest to solve all open questions related to refugees return.
SUMMARY: Report on Return of Displaced Persons and Refugees
in the Republic of Croatia for the Period 2000 – September 2003
– Progress to the Process of Return
1. Proactive policy of the Croatian Government and its performance related to return of displaced
persons and refugees in the course of last years have provided preconditions that advanced the process
of return of displaced persons and refugees:
• Change of the legal framework and amendments to the Law on Reconstruction and the Law on
Areas of Special State Concern relating to reconstruction, repossession of property and housing, as
well as removing other administrative obstacles to the return – discriminatory provisions have been
removed from the laws and all returnees are treated as equal in their right to return, also more
flexible and efficient reconstruction and housing systems have been defined, and procedures for
repossession of property have been harmonized.
• Significant funding invested in the creation of sustainable conditions for return and development of
the war affected areas, i.e. areas of return.
• Transparency to the implementation of all programs and progress in cooperation with NGO's.
• Intensive international cooperation and approaching international financial institutions and funds
which were used as alternative modes of financing aimed at acceleration of the return process.
• Accelerated implementation of the housing program and provision of alternative accommodation.
• Creation of the program of housing of ex-tenancy right holders who are either returning or have
already returned to Croatia.
The Government has given high priority to the following activities: reconstruction of damaged and
destroyed housing and related basic infrastructure, repossession of property and provision of housing.
2. Significant improvement of dynamics and sustainability of return is the result of the measures
undertaken in the course of last three and half years, which are substantiated by following indicators:
• 80,156 returnees – 34,088 displaced Croats (43%) and 46,068 ethnic Serb refugees returned
primarily from Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina (57%). In eight months of the
2003 there were 9,724 registered returnees – 20% displaced persons and 80% minority returnees.
• 28,400 reconstructed housing units and supporting basic utility and social infrastructure in places of
return, which enabled return of 85,000 returnees.
• 15,006 repossessed private properties, among which 5,320 have been repossessed since September
2002, when the latest legal amendments relating to the repossession procedures were implemented.
• 4,889 housed families of temporary occupiers of private property, mostly refugees from B-H and
S&MN, and other returnee families in need of housing, who leased a state property or got
construction material. Out of that number 3,326 have been housed since September 2002.
• Construction material for reconstruction of damaged houses in B-H has been provided to 1,223
refugee families (4,560 pesons) whose delivery is under way – the Croatian Government's program
of assistance to the return to B-H.
Acceleration of minority return as a result of undertaken measures as well as the overall change in
the atmosphere in places of return is of particular importance!
Reconstruction of housing stock and infrastructure has been intensified because additional
funding was afforded from both the State Budget and loans – a total of 4,72 billion KN (637 million
EUR) invested in the period 2000-2003. Reconstruction of damaged and destroyed infrastructure has
been particularly intensified. Before 2000 it had been a main reason which hindered return in particular
of younger families as well as economic development of war affected areas – for example 730,6 million
KN invested in reconstruction of infrastructure since 2000, whereas 146,5 million KN were invested in
the preceding period. Recently approved EIB loan program amounting approx. 100 million EUR (50%
loan and 50% Croatian Budget funds) provided additional funds for the reconstruction of infrastructure.
Total of 8,000 housing units is under reconstruction in 2003, among which the majority have
already been finished, whereas reconstruction of another 9,000 housing units will begin in September to
be finished in 2004. This program will bring the reconstruction of war damaged and destroyed housing
stock to a closure, while the remaining damaged houses and apartments if any will be finished in 2005.
The majority of reconstruction beneficiaries in this year are ethnic Serbs – approx. 75%,
whereas their number is expected to increase to more than 80% in 2004. Out of a total of 19,000 claims
for reconstruction that remained to be solved, 11,500 have been submitted by refugees who are still
residing in S&MN and B-H. It should be noted the rate of solving the reconstruction claims has
particularly been accelerated this year, and reached the monthly average of approx. 3,000 decisons.
A total of 123,020 houses and apartments either damaged or destroyed in the war have been
reconstructed since the beginning of program of reconstruction, for which approx. 13,8 billion KN have
been spent, which together with the cost of reconstruction of basic infrastructure amounts to 16,2 billion
KN. A total of 4 billion KN have been spent on reconstruction of 28,400 houses and apartments since
2000, and adding the cost of reconstruction of infrastructure it amounts to 4,72 billion KN.
Repossession of property. Particularly significant progress has been made in the field of
repossession of property. The encountered problems and inefficiency of the system of repossession of
property lead to amendments to the Law on Areas of Special State Concern adopted in July 2002, when
procedures for repossession of property were clearly defined as well as deadlines for repossession of
property. The latest amendments also cancelled local Housing Commissions and thus the responsibility
for repossession of property was entirely taken over by the Government – Ministry for Public Works,
Reconstruction and Construction, stimulating on its part the cooperation with local authorities. This way
the negative influences on return process which had existed in some local communities were removed.
Prescribed legal time limit for completion of the process of repossession of property in Croatia
was set to the end of 2002. Owners who did not come into possession of their property within the legal
deadline are paid monthly compensations for damage until repossession of property takes place.
Intensive implementation of repossession of property according to the latest legal amendments
is under way. Currently there is a total of 4,271 housing units still occupied by temporary occupants,
mostly refugees from B-H. In the last twelve months some 5,320 housing units have been repossessed
by their owners, among which 2,622 since the beginning of this year. All prescribed measures have
been undertaken to return the remaining occupied property: administrative as well as court proceedings
have been instituted in order to evict illegal occupants from 595 houses; construction of alternative
housing is under way for 1,008 occupants who should vacate the property after the construction is
finished; provision of housing, i.e. alternative accommodation is under way for 2,668 occupants as they
do not have any other habitable property either in RC or B-H. Due to technical reasons rate of
implementation of the housing program is slower than envisaged, therefore not all temporary occupants
will be provided with housing until the end of 2003. Owners of 2,766 occupied houses who applied for
repossession will repossess their property until the end of the year, whereas in 1,505 cases of occupied
property which was not claimed for repossession, temporary representatives will be appointed and then
the repossession will follow. In order to ensure repossession of property by the rightful owners,
alternative models of accommodation will be offered to temporary occupants as well.
A total of 782 million KN have been made available for the purpose of housing of temporary
occupants: 62,5% from the Croatian Budget, and 37,5% from the latest CEB loan, for which the
Croatian Government received approval in March of this year (40 million EUR). Budget funds have
been used exclusively in the course of year since the funds from CEB loan have not yet been drawn.
Housing of ex-tenancy right holders. Implementation of the program has already started with
the provison of housing to ex-tenancy right holders who had returned to the areas of special state
concern, by the lease of state-owned apartments and APN houses according to the Law on Areas of
Special State Concern. Since ex-tenancy right holders are not treated separately from other beneficiaries
of housing we can not provide their exact number at the moment. Since the majority of ex-tenancy right
holders had lived outside areas of special state concern, Government adopted in June a new program on
housing of ex-tenancy right holders who are returning to places outside areas of special state concern.
Total of 60 million KN will be provided in the State Budget for the next year for that purpose.
Preparations for media campaign and beginning of submission of housing applications are under way.
Return to B-H: The significant achievemnt on the part of Croatian Government is the initiation of
the process of return of ethnic Croats to the areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina where minority returns
used to be very slow. Croatia has undertaken a series of measures for return to B-H, primarily through
the program of direct assistance to returnees to B-H in reconstruction of their damaged and destroyed
homes which required substantial budget funds – deliveries of construction material to 1,223 returnee
families in B-H (4,560 persons) are under way. Beside that, process of return to B-H as well as from B-
H to Croatia have been additionally stimulated by funding other programs and co-operation with
authorized B-H Ministry, especially exchange of data that has been intensified. At the end of 2001 the
Agreement on Return was signed between the two respective governments.
Beside intensified co-operation with B-H, Croatia has lately intensified co-operation with Serbia
and Montenegro, especially in relation to exchange of data on refugees who are still residing in S&MN.
Proposed measures to a ccellerate the repossession of property until end of 2003
(adopted by the Government of Croatia on 16 October 2003)
In order to accelerate the existing dynamics of solving of the remaining cases of occupied property and
to ensure repossession of the greatest part of the occupied property, 4,349 housing units, following
measures should be undertaken:
g) Accelerate purchase of habitable housing units by APN, especially in counties Šibenik-Knin and
Zadar. Monthly dynamics until the end of the year should be approx. 400 units. Task of the APN.
h) Accelerate deliveries of construction material, in particular to 1,008 temporary occupants of private
property to whom deliveries have already started or are under preparation. Task of the Ministry for
Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction – Directorate for Reconstruction.
i) Accelerate connections of constructed or reconstructed alternative housing units to electric power.
Task of the Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction – Directorate for
Reconstruction, i.e. umbrella supervision and Croatian Electric Power Company.
j) Accelerate institution of legal proceedings for eviction of illegal occupants upon the request of the
Ministry. Task of the State Attorney's Office.
k) Provide sufficient number of housing units to be rented by the Ministry and then used for temporary
housing of occupants who will vacate occupied property. Task of the Ministry for Public Works,
Reconstruction and Construction – Directorate for Displaced Persons, Returnees and Refugees.
l) Temporary representatives shall be appointed until the end of the year for the occupied property -
1,505 occupied housing units whose owners did not file claims for repossession. Task of the
Ministry for Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction – Directorate for Displaced Persons,
Returnees and Refugees Displaced Persons, Returnees and Refugees.
The implementation of these measures until the end of the year would ensure vacation of some 2,766
housing units whose owners filed claims for repossession of property, as it follows:
a. Implementation of the eviction orders for 246 illegal occupants of property claimed for repossession
b. Provision of housing i.e. alternative accommodation for at least 1,770 temporary occupants. Out of
that number purchase of some 412 occupied houses by APN is under way, because their owners
have offered them for sale to APN in the meantime;
c. Completion of deliveries of construction material and construction of alternative units for 750
occupants of private property claimed for repossession;
that gives a total of 66% of currently occupied property.
The rest of the cases of property which has not yet been claimed for repossession would be solved by
appointment of temporary representatives followed by repossession of property – a total of 1,505
housing units (35% of currently occupied property).
Implementation of the above stated measures will lead to the completion of the process of repossession
of property by the end of the year in the majority of counties – Bjelovar, Požega, Virovitica and Brod-
Posavina, as well as in counties with a small number of occupied property – Dubrovnik, Split-Dalmatia
and Istria counties. In the counties Vukovar and Osijek all private property was repossessed earlier. The
process will be also completed to the greatest extent in counties of Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac, with
exception of a few municipalities – Sunja, Vojnić. The majority of occupied property for which
temporary representatives will be appointed, will remain in Šibenik-Knin county and town of Knin,
Zadar and Lika counties.