Republic of Croatia: Overview of ICRC activitiesOctober - December 2001
31-12-2001 Operational Update
The ICRC has been working in Croatia since 1991. Throughout the various phases of the conflict it regularly adapted its operations to meet humanitarian needs. Today the ICRC is continuing to deal with the effects of war in various ways.
The ICRC is involved in three main areas of activity:
providing direct assistance to the civilian population suffering from the lasting consequences of the conflict in fields where the ICRC has specific expertise such as tracing missing persons, visiting people detained in connection with the conflict and assisting communities in mine-contaminated areas;
supporting and co-operating with the Croatian Red Cross in its ongoing efforts to raise people's awareness about the danger of mines and propagate Red Cross values;
promoting knowledge of and respect for humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles among military and police forces and within academic and government circles.
Persons unaccounted for in connection with the conflict
Today, ten years after armed conflict broke out in Croatia and six years after it ended, many families are still looking for their missing relatives. The ICRC continues to assist these people and to remind the authorities of their obligation to clarify the fate of missing persons.
The ICRC supports the efforts of the Government Office for Detained and Missing Persons and co-operates closely with the Croatian Red Cross. Information on solved cases and on newly opened ones is regularly forwarded to the ICRC so that it can update its database. The ICRC is also in contact with family associati ons and with individuals who approach it directly to obtain news of their missing relatives.
Regarding persons reported missing between 1991 and 1992, the ICRC continues to take part as an observer in meetings between the government bodies of the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and supports the work of the Croatian Red Cross tracing agency.
Persons reported missing between 1991 and 1992 - Tracing requests
1 Oct.-31 Dec. 2001
- FOUND ALIVE
- CONFIRMED DEAD
- REQUESTS CANCELLED
Family members fill in tracing requests for missing relatives, which are then submitted to the relevant authorities.
With respect to persons reported missing in the former UN sectors between 1992 and 1995, the ICRC continues to collect tracing requests and reports of deaths and to submit them to the authorities.
In spring 2001 the ICTY and the Croatian juridical bodies exhumed around 300 bodies in Gospic a nd Knin areas. The bodies were handed over to the Croatian Government Office for Detained and Missing Persons for identification. During the reporting period at the Forensic and Criminology Institute in Zagreb, the Office organised identifications of 11 preliminary identified bodies, of whom 6 were identified by families. The families who did not identified the bodies and those who seek more family members gave blood for the DNA analysis. In this process the ICRC assisted by locating the families, by arranging transport to Zagreb, and by obtaining entry permission for Croatia as most of them have no valid travel document. So far, 1 body was taken over by a family and buried in Croatia.
Persons reported missing in the former UN sectors - Tracing requests
1. Oct.-31.Dec. 2001
- FOUND ALIVE
- CONFIRMED DEAD
- REQUESTS CANCELLED
Family members fill in tracing requests for missing relative, which are then submitted to the relevant authorities.
Persons reported missing in the former UN sectors - Reported deaths
1. Oct.-31. Dec. 2001
(60 transferred from tracing requests)
Family members fill in the reports for relatives who got killed which are then submitted to the relevant authorities.
Regarding persons reported missing in the former UN sectors, the ICRC also issues letters to families confirming that it is tracing their missing relatives. Between October and December 2001, the ICRC issued 12 such letters, which are mainly needed for resolving various status-related or property issues.
The ICRC carries out regular visits to detainees held in connection with the conflict in Croatia. The purely humanitarian purpose of such visits is to assess the detainees'physical and psychological condition, distribute basic assistance and arrange for detainees with relatives in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to receive visits from them. The ICRC is currently visiting 78 people in 10 places of detention in Croatia.
In order to improve the quality of life of long-term detainees, the ICRC has provided those in need with dental prostheses, books, equipment for outdoor and indoor games, clothes, shoes, cigarettes and phone cards. From October to December 2001, over 50 certificates of detention were issued to former detainees who were either registered by the ICRC or brought to the ICRC's attention by the detaining authorities. Such documents are required for resolving various status-related issues.
Family visits are regularly organised for detainees in the Republic of Croatia whose relatives live in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In the last quarter of 2001, ICRC representatives have accompanied 102 people on family v isits to 63 detainees. Given the importance of establishing and maintaining links between detainees and their relatives, in the period under review the ICRC organised 2 family visits for each detainee.
The Red Cross mine-awareness programme was introduced in Croatia in spring 1996 in response to widespread mine contamination affecting 14 out of 21 counties. The aim of this programme is to reduce the risk of death and injury by promoting safe behaviour among people living in mine-affected areas. The plan is to build a sustainable programme which can eventually be taken over and run by the Croatian Red Cross for as long as the danger exists.
The strength of these mine-awareness activities lies in their extensive support network. For four years now, 100 mine-awareness instructors from 49 local Red Cross branches have been teaching affected communities and groups at risk about the dangers of mines such as hunters, fisherman and farmers. In the year 2001, presentations were conducted to more than 80,000 persons both adults and children. To ensure constant capacity-building of the National Society, basic mine awareness trainings as well as child-to-child workshops are organised.
In the end of 2001, the Croatian Parliament adopted a new law concerning the Croatian Red Cross. The most significant change is the recognition of the Croatian Red Cross as the official auxiliary to the government in implementing mine awareness programme.
Projects initiated by the affected communities
The mine-awareness programme is being developed by local communities so as to ensure that it is sustainable and that mine awareness becomes a way of life. The ICRC supports and facilitates various local initiatives. These projects, whic h are often innovative, promote mine awareness in a way that is adapted to the local situation.
The ICRC's role is to provide support to the RC instructors and branches in terms of technical expertise and, where needed, materials, logistics and access to the authorities. Among various initiatives that have been taken, the MA photo and caricature exhibition continued to tour the area of eastern Slavonia with the stress on students-returnees. It was visited by some 7,500 people. During the period, the highlight among local projects was the puppet show " Dangerous adventure " that visited 45 mine affected places covering over 8,400 pupils.
Other efforts include a national campaign in which ICRC TV spots were broadcast daily and were reinforced at the end of the year due to the fact that there were two mine incidents.
The ICRC supports mine action
Lobbying, mine clearing, assistance to mine victims and mine-awareness programmes are complementary approaches to solving the mine problem and the ICRC is convinced that only through integrating these approaches can the danger of mines be effectively decreased. All efforts in this area need to be adapted to the local situation and affected countries should be helped to build up their capacity to take charge of mine-related activities.
The Ottawa Treaty calls upon all countries to do their utmost to ensure that mine victims are cared for, rehabilitated and reintegrated into their communities and to raise awareness about the danger of mines. The ICRC, for its part, strives to improve the assistance given to all war-wounded people, particularly mine victims, who will need care and assistance for the rest of their lives. It also endeavours to reduce civilian casualties in mine-contaminated areas through community-based education programmes about mine risks.
Red Cross values programme
" Promoting humanitarian behaviour in Croatian schools " is a programme that was started in 1996 with the aim of fostering respect for humanitarian principles. The ICRC supports training workshops aimed at Red Cross youth leaders and teachers who co-ordinate Red Cross activities in schools. The methods involved include group work, discussions, role playing and structured activities.
Promotion of international humanitarian law
In its role as guardian of the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC has the basic task of supporting countries in their efforts to promote and ensure respect for international humanitarian law. This involves working with military and police forces, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, academic circles and youth groups.
Specialised ICRC literature and other material on humanitarian law have been systematically made available to universities and distributed free of charge to government offices and police and military forces. Beforehand, the Hague Conventions and other legal instruments on the law of armed conflict were translated into Croatian and published in co-operation with distinguished Croatian law scholars.