10 Facts About Poverty in Croatia
Croatia is located between central and southeastern Europe and includes a multitude of small islands that are scattered alongside its maritime coast with the Adriatic Sea. Despite being a member of the wealthy European Union, Croatia is economically unstable and wide-reaching poverty affects much of the population. Here is a list of 10 facts about poverty in Croatia that will illustrate living conditions today.

10 Facts About Poverty in Croatia

1. High poverty rates: In 2008, Croatia experienced a sharp rise in poverty that exceeded the rates recorded by other EU members. About one-third of all citizens live in conditions of extreme material deprivation and just over 15 percent are unable to afford the basic necessities needed to lead a comfortable life. Furthermore, there is a correlation between poverty and inequality in Croatia. A higher income is necessary as the world around develops. This makes it difficult for uneducated workers to afford the goods needed to increase their standard of living.

2. The country faces a significant debt burden: In 2018, the national debt in Croatia accumulated to $45.3 billion, which is equal to 74.1 percent of the country’s GDP. This amounts to $11,048 of debt for each individual living in Croatia. While the ratio has been improving since 2014, central government spending outweighs government revenues by a considerable margin. This will ensure that foreign debt will continue to burden Croatian citizens in the foreseeable future.

3. Croatia has the fourth highest youth unemployment rate in the EU: Statistics showed the Croatian youth unemployment rate at 23 percent in January 2019. According to Marijana Petir, a member of the European Parliament, the Croatian government has thus far created “improper employment conditions.” This has driven educated Croatian youth to seek jobs in wealthier European countries that have entrenched stable job opportunities into their economies.

4. Children are disproportionately affected by poverty: When the national debt peaked in 2014, about 2.6 million Croatian children were living in destitution. These vulnerable groups of individuals suffer the most due to a lack of necessary nutrients needed to grow and an adequate government infrastructure needed to secure future prospects of upward mobility. UNICEF is a leading organization working to improve the lives of impoverished children. In 2017, UNICEF entered into a partnership with the Croatian government in which both parties agreed to focus on improving children’s rights across the country.

5. Croatia is experiencing a massive emigration wave: Records show that far more individuals have left Croatia since the recession than previously estimated. While Croatia had recorded the number at 102,000, foreign statistics indicate that the number accumulates to 230,000 individuals. Many of these emigrants are in fact refugees and asylum seekers hoping to find better living conditions in other EU states.

6. Croatia struggles with underdeveloped regions: Small towns and settlements on the eastern and southeastern borders experience the highest rates of poverty. Economic struggles are attributed to the effects of the Croatian War of Independence in the 1990s. This war to separate from Yugoslavia led to massive destruction in these regions, as it cause $36 billion worth of damage and destroyed thousands of houses.

7. Education decreases the risk of poverty: Among those who attend primary school in Croatia, the risk of poverty is 37.1 percent. This number drops by 16 percent for those who attend secondary school. The chance of attending even basic levels of education is unlikely for impoverished children in Croatia, as families struggle to afford the necessary supplies needed to excel.

8. Health care is in need of reform: The European Commission released an assessment of the Croatian health care system at the end of 2017 indicating their concerns. Some issues include low spending on health care, an insufficient number of nurses and doctors and an unhealthy general population. Croatians struggle with drinking, smoking and obesity, which all harm the immune system and increase the risk of attracting disease.

9. Croatia’s Human Development Index (HDI) rate is increasing: Croatia’s HDI is steadily increasing, showing that the country is bettering its economic standing. Indicators in 2017 show that life expectancy at birth, years of schooling and GNI per capita are all on the rise. While Croatia’s HDI value of 0.831 puts it in the very high human development category, it is still well under the average HDI value for the European Union.

10. The Programme for Fighting Poverty and Social Exclusion: The EU created this initiative in order to combat the coupled problems of poverty and exclusion. The Croatian government adopted this program in 2015 as a strategy to halt the expansion and mitigate the effects of these two issues. The Croatian government has taken a regional approach when implementing the program, as it has allocated resources based upon which areas are in most need of aid.

These 10 facts about poverty in Croatia detail the hardships endured by the Croatian population; however, they also present a few avenues the central government is taking in order to alleviate these issues. Croatia has experienced slow yet impactful progress since 2014. Croatia needs to do more work if it is to become among the most affluent European states.

– Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

Top Ten Facts About Living in Croatia
Nestled between Bosnia, Herzegovina and Slovenia, Croatia is a small country in Eastern Europe with an extensive history. Once a part of Yugoslavia, Croatia officially declared its independence in 1991 and became a fully developed country in 1998. Despite the country’s tumultuous beginnings as an independent nation, it has established itself fairly well as a developed nation. Keep reading to learn about the top 10 facts about living conditions in Croatia.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Croatia

  1. Ninety-nine percent of children attend primary school, which is split into two stages: grades one to four and grades five to eight. After primary school, children receive the option of stopping school or obtaining a secondary education. There are three options for secondary education in Croatia including grammar schools, vocational schools and art schools. After completing any of these options and receiving a Certificate of Education, students may enroll in a university.
  2. Croatia requires people to have a public health insurance plan as of 2002 which is funded via tax collections. While the quality of medical care in Croatia is good, the country is facing a financial problem due to low fertility rates in relation to the older population. To help combat this burden, doctor’s appointments, hospital visits and prescription medications require co-payments.
  3. Taking the bus is the most efficient way to travel in Croatia. The railways are not up-to-date and run slowly, whereas the bus systems are well-developed and fairly priced. Other travel options throughout Croatia include flights, coastal ferries and of course, driving.
  4. A portion of Croatia’s population (24.4 percent) is obese, ranking the country 59th in the world for obesity rates. The large reliance on transportation to get around the country may be a cause.
  5. Up until the 1990s, Croatia’s population was steadily increasing. In the 1990s, however, the population underwent a significant demise in population growth due to displacement from war, emigration to countries like the United States, Australia and Canada and increased deaths. As of 2018, 40 percent of the Croatian population is between the ages of 25 and 54, which places stress on both the majority population of older citizens and the minority population of younger citizens.
  6. Formerly a communist state up until 1990, Croatia’s economy has shifted to market-oriented capitalism. This shift was not easy due to the lasting effects of war in the country, leading to high unemployment rates lasting into the 21st century. Additionally, Croatia’s war-torn past has allowed the country to sustain an informal economy and has led to the emergence of a black market.
  7. Unemployment is prevalent among young Croatian citizens in particular, with 27.4 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 24, and 12.4 percent of the total population living without work. However, the government’s economic reform plan — scheduled for implementation beginning in 2019 — may lead to more job opportunities.
  8. Croatia largely depends on its imports in terms of resources and power. It uses up more oil and gas than it can produce, and while it has enough rivers to potentially use hydroelectric power, Croatia receives the vast majority of its electricity as imports. Croatia has begun efforts to implement the use of liquefied natural gas by early 2020, planning to redistribute this LNG throughout southeast Europe.
  9. Croatia had no organized armed forces when the country declared its independence in 1991 but subsequently formed an army, a navy and an air force. The country is not very militaristic and relies mostly on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for national security after joining the Treaty in 2009.
  10. Croatia is not a significant haven for refugees, though refugees do use it as a transit country. Between 2015 and 2019, roughly 672,418 refugees and migrants passed through Croatia. However, as of June 2018, the country only had about 340 asylum seekers actually residing in Croatia.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Croatia make it clear that despite progress, the country still has work to improve the quality of life for its inhabitants.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girls Education in Croatia
Croatia is a small country located in the Balkan region of Europe. It was formerly part of Yugoslavia and still adopts many of the conservative views of the former communist regime. The conservative viewpoints of the country place social restrictions on women, but they are encouraged to participate in the workforce and contribute to the economy. Croatian legislation provides incredibly specialized opportunities for both girls and boys as they move from their basic education to their career paths, but girls education is still highly influenced by traditional gender roles. In the article below, top 10 facts about girls education in Croatia are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Girls Education in Croatia

  1. The female literacy rate is lower than those of men. In general, the adult population in Croatia has a very high literacy rate of 97 percent.  The men literacy rate is at 99.7 percent while the literacy rate for women is at 98.9 percent.
  2. Primary education is compulsory. Girls and boys are required to attend eight years of elementary education and then can choose to move to a secondary school and later in college. Schools teach orally in Croatian, but all written work is done in Latin. Students learn a minimum of two languages in their elementary education system. Secondary schools are optional and focus on specific areas of education and trade. Students may choose vocational, art, or specialized high school programs. Almost 67 percent of students in secondary school attend a vocational school. Female students have a gross enrollment ratio (GER) of over 100 in secondary education compared to male students with a GER of 95.6. More female students are also enrolled in tertiary education programs.
  3. Roma girls face difficulties completing primary education and Roma culture is highly discriminated in Croatia. They have Indian origins and generally live in the Northeastern provinces of the country. Few Roma children speak Croatian fluently and these children usually end up struggling in primary schools. Less than 50 percent of these children finish primary school and move onto secondary school.
  4. Most of the Croatian citizens are Roman Catholic and sexually conservative. The sex education policies of the country focus on the Family Planning method and teach abstinence-only programs. Homosexuality and gender disparity are portrayed in a negative and often “sinful” light. Girls are encouraged to follow a traditional role in their relationships and learn little knowledge about birth control methods and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) prevention.
  5. Sex and gender discrimination is normal. Girls do not learn about all of their possibilities due to the social conservative approach of education in Croatia. The role they are taught to follow tends to lead them away from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career paths and influences their secondary school choices. In addition, homosexuality and transgenderism are perceived as being abnormal.
  6. Girls are encouraged to focus on the arts and educational career paths. This practice affects the number of women enrolled in STEM classes. Men only make up 8.1 percent of those enrolled in education courses at universities and women are underrepresented in computer science, engineering, and architecture courses.
  7. Schools promote gender equality in theory. The Istanbul Convention was adopted in Croatia in May 2018. It addressed many civic and gender rights issues. The Croatian government implemented national legislation to create an institution of Gender Sensitive Education. The National Policy for Gender Equality focused on the elimination of gender stereotypes, teacher education on gender equality, and less influence of gender on occupational paths. However conservative gender roles are still imposed in spite of this legislation.
  8. Secondary schools have had more success adhering to the progressive gender legislation. The terminology of various occupational choices are being equalized and textbooks are being distributed with efforts to maintain gender neutrality. The Croatian Employment Service provides occupational guidance for students after primary schools regardless of gender through educational brochures and the computer program “My Choice”.
  9. Enrollment rates of women are currently growing in secondary and tertiary education programs. The proportion of women who complete their university or vocational studies is considerably higher than men at 59.5 percent. Around 55 percent of women attending tertiary schools receive a doctoral degree. At least 58.2 percent of university attendants also received a master’s degree.
  10. Most teachers in primary and secondary schools are women. The number of men with careers in education increases as the education level increases. However, even in higher-level universities and vocational schools, the gap between the percentage of female to male teachers is still 12.7 percent. Women dominate the education system, except in administrative and management capacities. Only 20.9 percent of deans in the 52 higher education system are women.

Girls are able to receive an incredibly comprehensive academic education through the Croatian public school system. With the adoption of the Istanbul Convention girls’ rights throughout the country should increase, including their rights in the school systems. The country has attempted to make strides in gender equality but still focuses on conservative viewpoints of sexuality. As the social structure of Croatia becomes more progressive, so will the dynamic of women in the academic sector.

– Emily Triolet
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor
Child labor is defined as the employment of children who are under the legal working age. Currently, there are about 265 million children engaged in child labor around the world. While this is clearly not ideal, there has been a reduction in child labor across the globe, from 23 percent of children working in 2000 to close to 17 percent in 2012. Many countries whose laws once allowed for child labor now protect their children from such harsh conditions instead.

Where Countries Are Based on Levels of Income

There are four basic income levels. Level 1 is extreme poverty; the family can barely afford to eat and must get water from wells. Level 2 is lower-middle income; the family can afford decent food and shoes. Level 3 is upper-middle income; the family can afford running water and basic appliances. Level 4 is high income; the family can afford a nice house and cars.

The higher a family’s income, the less likely they are to have their children work from a young age. Likewise, the higher a country’s income, the less likely they are to approve of child labor. We can see the likelihood of child labor by looking at the income level of different countries.

Level 4: Ireland

In 18th and 19th century Ireland, children were routinely put to work because they could be paid less than what adult workers were paid, they could operate certain machines that adults could not and it was believed that they would grow up to be harder workers. In many cases, children aged 3 to 7 were outright kidnapped by organized trade rings and forced to do whatever work their masters wanted them to.

The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act of 1996 changed all of that. Under this law, Irish employers cannot make children younger than 16 work full time. Additionally, employers cannot hire anyone under age 14 at all. Children aged 14 to 15 can only do light work during school holiday periods, work in educational programs that are not harmful to their health or cultural enrichment jobs. On top of that, employees aged 18 or younger must receive a minimum of €6.69 per hour, which is 70 percent of the Irish adult minimum wage.

Level 3: Croatia

In Croatia, the legal minimum age for work is 15. From the ages of 15 to 18 years old, children can only work with written permission from their parents, and inspections must show that the labor does not interfere with the child’s health, morality or education. In addition, anyone caught dealing in child prostitution in any way will face a three to 10-month prison sentence.

These laws have not stopped all child labor in Croatia. Roma children are often forced to beg in the streets, and Croatia experiences the active trafficking of young girls for prostitution. That said, the 2006-2012 National Program for the Protection of the Best Interests of Children made great strides in the reduction in child labor, particularly prostitution.

Level 2: Sudan

Of Sudan’s 37.96 million children, 45,600 are currently subject to child labor. Not only are there no laws against child labor, but the government also encourages it by kidnapping children in rural areas during military raids. These children start working at age 5, so they miss out on their educations, which otherwise would be compulsory.

However, Sudan has made strides in decreasing the child labor rate, including signing a Partnership Protocol Agreement with the European Union in 2008 and inspecting working environments to keep children from working in toxic conditions. Unfortunately, little has been done to help rural areas. Families have to migrate to urban areas or to other countries to escape labor and let their children get an education. Although, escape from Sudan is illegal and far from easy, it is still possible.

Level 1: Niger

The child labor rate in Niger is 42.8 percent. The jobs that young children are made to perform include agriculture, mining, caste-based servitude and forced begging. The government has set up a number of programs to reduce child labor, including Centers for Education, Legal, and Preventative Service; The Project to Reduce Child Labor in Agriculture; and The World Bank Country Program. However, these programs have made only moderate advances in stopping child labor.

Child labor continues to be a problem in the world today. Poor and corrupt countries are quick to put children to work because the children do not require high wages. However, laws and legislation all over the world have resulted in a global reduction in child labor. It has not stopped child labor altogether, but a little progress is better than none at all. The fight to end child labor continues.

Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in CroatiaCroatia, a quaint European country tucked away in the Adriatic Sea, appears to thrive in the Mediterranean. Tourists flock to its squares, and its people show an optimism and cheery spirit. Economically, however, the country has struggled in the past due to external political factors that have had an impact on several parts of Europe throughout the 20thcentury.

The Croatian Economy

Croatia’s problems started long before it became an independent state. Prior to 1991, Croatia had been a part of Yugoslavia. Its communist-based planned economy was successful at first, but it quickly fell apart due to mismanagement and human error. After the planned economy and communist movement fell apart, Croatia experienced high episodes of hyperinflation and inequality. In the past two decades, however, the situation has gotten better.

Croatia has improved significantly from its earlier days of economic turmoil. Despite having a growing economy, the state struggles with the issue of credit access, especially for small businesses. Recently, this can be attributed in part to the 2010 European financial crisis that had an impact on smaller countries on the continent. Challenging market conditions had made it so that receiving credit was harder than usual. In 2008, only 42 percent of Croatians had access to financial services. Since then, Croatia’s economy has stabilized, but the issue of credit access still remains.

Credit in Croatia

The issue is significant. The term ‘credit access’ encompasses a wide variety of financial institutions not limited to strict agencies providing services. Underdeveloped ATMs and local banks create a roadblock to future growth. In order for progress to be made, there have to be several changes made in the infrastructure to unlock the potential in Croatia’s economy.

Legally, there are several hurdles that make changing credit access in Croatia an issue. First, there is the need to alter the legacy banks and institutions in the area. Historically, Croatia has not had a strong financial history, and a large part of its population has grown accustomed to the lack of resources.

In one report, the authors claimed only 14 percent of Croatians were being properly served by the nation’s financial markets. In order to improve this number, there needs to be an institutional change that starts at the legal level.

Currently, around 30 percent of individuals have stated that they had issues with making ends meet. This comes in the context of job insecurity with 29 percent of workers fearing they could lose their jobs in the next six months. The lack of credit access has compounded this worry since these individuals already find their financial situations to be unstable.

Solutions for Improving Credit in Croatia

In other nations, improving credit access has had tremendous success for the economy. Around the world, it has shown to decrease child labor and diversify assets for the poor. Studies have also linked improving credit access to positive agricultural growth. These improvements, undoubtedly positive in nature, have been accomplished at the small price of involving other nations in national affairs.

Similarly, to instigate change through credit access in Croatia, the state has to look to allied nations in Europe as models. Croatia’s membership in the EU may serve it well. Calling upon partnered countries to aid in this specific problem could actually strengthen The EU as a whole. Helping out with the credit issue in Croatia could lead to more benefits than expected with neighboring countries being able to benefit from a more stable trade partner. With an underserved population, there are also business opportunities for several nations to cash in on.

A Brighter Future

Recently, efforts have been made to improve credit access and the Croatian economy in general. To attract investors, the state has repeatedly made tax payments easier for companies. In 2012, Croatia created a private credit bureau to “collect and distribute information on firms” to improve the system and stimulate credit access. These changes have the potential to spur the economy in Croatia in the coming years.

The movement to focus on the economic situation in Croatia has significant implications. Not only could credit access improve but it could also help stimulate regional economic growth and increase jobs. New financial institutions would improve banks and create positions of skilled labor that could attract immigration as well. Improving the financial stature of Croatia could improve its economy in more ways than one.

– Mrinal Singh
Photo: Flickr

Bosnian War Facts

The Bosnian War was incredibly brutal and impacted millions of lives. Below are 10 important Bosnian War facts: how it began, what happened and how it ended.

Top 10 Bosnian War Facts

  1. The state of affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina began declining when politics became chaotic with the rapid decline of the Yugoslavian economy. Also playing a role was the collapse of communism and a structured government and various ethnic groups vying for control of the area. The Serbs, Muslims and Croats living in Bosnia each desired to appropriate Bosnia and Herzegovina’s territory for their own countries and take control of the government and political field.
  2. Bosnian Croats and Muslims feared that Milošević, the leader of the Socialist Party of Serbia, would take their land, so they called for the independence of Herzeg-Bosnia. The Serbs, however, had the same idea. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s independence was declared on March 3, 1992, and was recognized by the U.S. and the European Community on April 6, 1992.
  3. On April 6, 1992, the Serbs began the Siege of Sarajevo, which lasted until Feb. 29, 1996. The Serbian paramilitary forces began the siege by holding positions inside the city and in the hills surrounding Sarajevo. By the first week of May, the Serbs had surrounded the whole city, which cut Sarajevo off from food, medicine, water, electricity, fuel and other supplies. The Serbs began firing on Sarajevo with advanced artillery but faced heavy defense from those mobilized with weapons within the city. Because the Serbs were facing opposition, they began to terrorize the city with intense gunfire and snipers. The Siege of Sarajevo lasted for 47 months and remains the longest siege in modern history.
  4. With Sarajevo, as well as several other cities isolated by force, the supply of food, utilities and communication became extremely limited and spread thin throughout the territory. This caused many cases of malnutrition and many citizens lost an average of up to 33 pounds while some others lost their lives due to lack of access to supplies.
  5. Bosnian Serbs began ethnic cleansing of large areas occupied by non-Serbs. The genocide destroyed entire villages and thousands of Bosnians were forced out of their homes and taken to detention camps where they were raped, tortured, deported or killed. The Serbians used rape in the Bosnian War as a tactic to destroy relationships, families and communities.
  6. One of the most lethal Bosnian War facts came when Gen. Ratko Mladic led Serbian troops in capturing Srebrenica, previously declared by the U.N. as a safe area, and killed almost 8,000 Muslim men. The U.N. later indicted Radovan Karadžić, orchestrator of the attack on Sarajevo, and General Mladic for genocidal war crimes.
  7. The Bosnian government was prohibited from providing updated and necessary weaponry that the Serbian and Croatian armies maintained due to an international arms embargo imposed throughout the Bosnian War.
  8. Although the U.N. Protection Force sent troops to supervise humanitarian aid and protect declared safe areas, the U.N. overall refused to intercede in the Bosnian War.
  9. After NATO’s negotiations in Dayton, Ohio, in 1995, a final ceasefire was imposed and declared to bring an end to the Bosnian War. NATO enforced this through air strikes until the leaders agreed to the ceasefire and signed the Dayton Peace Accords in Paris on Dec. 14, 1995. The agreement allowed for a NATO peacekeeping enforcement group to maintain a permanent presence and oversight in the country.
  10. Throughout the Bosnian War, more than 250,000 people lost their lives and many more were displaced from their homes.

Even today, as a result of these Bosnian War facts, the territory remains highly divided between two sections: Muslim-Croat and the Serbian Republic. Both sections face a continuous fight against poverty, unemployment and ethnic discord.

Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Croatia
Fewer than 30 years ago, Croatia gained its independence from Yugoslavia, and now this newly independent country is working to find its place in the world economy. With assistance from the United States, not only can Croatia solidify a position, but also the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Croatia.

The United States’ Foreign Assistance

The United States currently spends approximately $3.4 million on foreign aid to Croatia, with the largest expense being $1.1 million going to military training, $1 million on foreign military financing, $850,000 on mine and explosive remnants of war, $274,000 on counterproliferation programs and $60,000 on humanitarian and civic assistance. This aid not only benefits Croatia but brings many benefits to the United States, including:

  1. Alliance in international organizations
  2. Opportunity for new markets for the U.S.
  3. Foreign aid to Croatia keeps the U.S. safe

International organizations such as the North American Treaty Organization (NATO), and the European Union (EU) are key institutions in coordinating foreign policy to create diplomatic relations and tie nations together.

Foreign Policy Gains

The United States actively supported Croatia’s induction to NATO in 2009, and Croatia’s inclusion to the EU in 2013. According to the U.S. Department of State, Croatia, as a part of these institutions, has taken part in peacekeeping missions in neighboring countries — a priority that aligns with the U.S.

Interestingly, it is also the sector where $3.3 million of foreign aid to Croatia is spent. The U.S. further benefits from this relationship because it gains an ally that can help implement foreign policy, be an outlet for new trade partners or target worldwide policy goals such as global warming.

Economic Benefits

The U.S.-Croatia relationship also opens new markets for U.S. This is arguably the most prominent benefit to the U.S. One of the goals that the U.S. supported upon Croatia’s independence was developing a market-oriented economy.

This support has so far held true and consistent. U.S. aid to Croatia has helped enable the country in becoming a leading partner is southeast Europe. With Croatia’s induction to the EU, the United States has gained another market opportunity for many overseas industries.

Additionally, the United States has been identified as a potential energy partner, which is particularly important given the current energy crisis in Europe.

Nonprofit Organizations and Global Allies

Foreign aid to Croatia comes not only through official government channels, but also through nonprofit organizations. For example, SOS Children’s Villages International sends humanitarian aid to Croatia from the U.S., with the goal of alleviating poverty and helping children and families flourish in the newly independent country.

This benefits the United States as the aid brings individuals in Croatia out of poverty and into educational outlets and the economy, enhancing economic opportunity for the United States.

Many of the top trading partners with the United States were once, or still are, foreign aid recipients, including China, Mexico and Brazil. While these nations receive less aid now, they still receive U.S. foreign aid and simultaneously act as great trading partners for the United States.

Interestingly, Croatia poses the same opportunity. As the nation develops its economy in a post-war era, there is opportunity for new trade opportunities for the U.S.; such a possibility highlights how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Croatia.

But, U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Croatia don’t end there. All of these factors — foreign aid, these relationships and numerous economic opportunities — all work together to keep America safe. Economic opportunity, increased government accountability and lessened poverty help create a more stable nation, and pose a lesser risk to both involved nations.

How the U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Croatia

Foreign aid creates diplomatic ties with other nations such as Croatia, and together can work to stop the spread of disease, terrorism and poverty, all of which pose threats to national security.

In one of The Borgen Project’s articles on the benefits of foreign aid, the organization posits a similar perspective to one referenced by Time Magazine — in a powerful statement by Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, philanthropist and humanitarian: “[Foreign aid] represents less than 1 percent of the federal budget, not even a penny out of every dollar. It is some of the best return on investment anywhere in government.”

While the relationship between the United States and Croatia is still relatively new, U.S. foreign aid to Croatia is helping a nation to become a world player, while also benefiting the U.S. economically and politically.

– Katherine Kirker

Photo: Flickr

Although the Croatian War has been over for more than twenty years, the aftermath is still present within the region. Lack of economic and political stability are current problems that Croatia faces. Professor Daliborka Uljarevic, a leader in the Centre for Citizens’ Education, says “political rhetoric and lack of profound economic recovery keep people stuck in recent past, with poor view on better future.” Here are the top 10 Croatian war facts that provide a better understanding of what happened during the war and how Croatia remains affected.

Top 10 Croatian War Facts:

  1. The war started in response to an oppressive government. Nazi rule took over in 1941 and communism dominated Croatia for nearly 50 years. People started to revolt against the government in the movement known as the Croatian Spring of 1971 and Croatian nationalism began to foster.
  2. Croatia was a part of Yugoslavia when it was ruled by communism. Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina were all also under Yugoslavia rule.
  3. Croatia declared independence in 1991 against Yugoslavia rule and the war lasted from 1991-1995.
  4. The U.N. separated Croatia into four areas to disconnect the battling groups of Serbs and Croats. When Croatia later got involved in the Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict, Bosniak Muslims were also separated.
  5. The U.N. Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) emergency relief in the Balkans was the largest of UNHCR’s operations. Costing more than one billion U.S. dollars, the U.N. provided close to a million tons of humanitarian supplies and food within 1991-1995 that ultimately saved many people from death.
  6. Despite the vast humanitarian assistance, more than 120,000 people died during the conflict. Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats made up the majority of the people who died. Two million individuals out of the four million population sought refuge in the neighboring country of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  7. The Battle of Vukovar was one of the bloodiest battles on Croatian soil and lasted 87 days. Of the Croats and non-Serbs, 7,000 were sent to concentration camps and approximately 22,000 fled the area for their lives.
  8. The war led to mass economic destruction. A quarter of the economy was destroyed, as there were $36 billion of war damages and 180,000 destroyed homes.
  9. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) helps victims of the war have a voice and justice for their suffering. The ICTY still works on resolving war crimes and establishing punishments for those who are guilty. There are still people unaccounted for.
  10. The U.S. led Dayton Peace Accords established peace in the area, bringing an end to the war. The country is now separated into two areas, one where the Bosnian Serbs are dominant and another where the Bosnian Muslims and Croats are dominant. Tensions still run high amongst these groups.

These 10 Croatian war facts do not demonstrate the full monstrosity that ensued during 1991-1995. Victims are still suffering to this day and many families still have not found their missing loved ones.

– Mary McCarthy

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in CroatiaCroatia officially became part of the European Union on July 1, 2013. With membership in the European Union came an increase in access to funds and European Union-backed financing. These funds, along with outside funding from institutions such as The World Bank, are helping to make the much-needed expansion of infrastructure in Croatia possible. Below are five examples of ways that infrastructure in Croatia is expanding.

The Building of the Pelješac Bridge

One of the largest infrastructure projects in Croatia is the building of the Pelješac Bridge. This bridge will connect southern Croatia and Dubrovnik, as well as some access roads. On January 12, 2018, it was announced that the bridge will be constructed by a Chinese consortium led by the Chinese Road and Bridge Corporation. The building of this bridge has been long awaited in Croatia, and this decision signals the beginning of what will become one of Croatia’s largest infrastructure expansion projects in recent years.

The Opening of a New Terminal at Zagreb International Airport

A new terminal was opened at Zagreb International Airport on March 22, 2017. The terminal cost $450 million, and was built by a consortium supported by the International Finance Corporation. Up to this point, the construction of this terminal was the largest infrastructure project that had occurred in Croatia in the last 10 years. This terminal is 65,000 square meters, and more than doubled the airport’s capacity, increasing it from two million to five million passengers per year. The hope is that this new terminal will allow for increased tourism in Croatia, which will ultimately improve the nation’s economy.

Reconstruction of the Croatian Road Network

There is currently a Modernization and Restructuring of the Roads Sector Project underway in Croatia. On April 28, 2017, the World Bank’s board of directors approved a $23.32 million loan to aid Croatia in this project. The road network in Croatia carries more than 75 percent of transport demands in the country, so the reconstruction and expansion of the road network will strengthen the effectiveness of this vital sector of infrastructure in Croatia.

Railway Construction

The Croatian railway network has been largely ignored in recent years, but that is beginning to change. The reconstruction of the railway that connects Dugo Selo to Križevci is underway. The 38-kilometer line is undergoing extensive reconstruction, and a second track is being added to it as well. This project is being largely funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and is expected to be completed by 2020.

Clean Water Project

Clean water will be more readily available to thousands in northern Croatia thanks to a project directed at improving infrastructure for water management and treatment. This project will cost €64.3 million, and is being funded by the European Union. In a press release on November 29, 2017, commissioner for regional policy Corina Cretu said, “Croatian households now have access to clean water thanks to our investment – this is a practical example of the value added by the European Union which cares about the environment and health of its citizens.”

The above projects are just a handful of the infrastructure projects that Croatia has undertaken since becoming an official member of the United Nations in 2013. These, along with the numerous other improvements being made to infrastructure in Croatia, are helping to expand economic opportunities in the country and improve the overall quality of living for the citizens of Croatia.

– Nicole Stout

Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid to Croatia and its Children
SOS Children’s Villages International is providing humanitarian aid to Croatia specifically targeted at children in the context of a struggling economy, high poverty rates and high unemployment levels.

In the wake of the war with the former Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia that lasted from 1991 to 1995, Croatia has struggled to recover from the decimation of its economic infrastructure. The six-year-long recession beginning in 2008 also contributed to Croatia’s weak economic structure.

Unemployment remains relatively high at 16.1 percent. The proportion of the population living at or below the national poverty line is 19.5 percent. The historic economic hardships that contribute to these statistics are clear, but how do these statistics affect the most vulnerable population, Croatia’s children?

Children in Croatia took the hardest hit from the 2008 recession, with child poverty rising over 50 percent. Poverty and unemployment have contributed to an increasing number of children being placed in institutions because families living below the poverty line are unable to feed or care for these children.

Children with mental and physical disabilities, behavioral issues or psychological problems are particularly at risk. Croatia’s infrastructure does not have the specialized centers to adequately accommodate and support these children. Their families are offered very little support and the children are often removed from their families and placed in institutions where they are deprived of the parental support and specialized care that they need. With little support from within local communities, SOS Children’s Villages has stepped in to provide humanitarian aid to Croatia and its children living in poverty.

SOS Children’s Villages International was founded in 1949 by Hermann Gmeiner in response to the proliferation of orphaned children after World War II. Gmeiner’s vision was to provide loving care in a family environment for children that were without parental care for whatever reason, and to help families stay together so they could care for their children. SOS Children’s Villages now operate in 135 countries through the support of donors, child sponsors, partners and friends.

SOS Children’s Villages seeks to provide humanitarian aid to Croatia by supporting local children, young people and families. Children in institutions are placed with loving SOS families to receive essential care, attention and support. SOS provides housing for young people where they can learn to live semi-independently. Families also benefit from kindergartens that will look after their children while they work.

Humanitarian aid to Croatia’s children also extends to children affected by the 2015 refugee crisis, many of whom are alone. SOS Children’s Villages works with local organizations to respond to the evolving needs of children affected by the crisis.

SOS Children’s Village has two locations in Croatia, providing support to children, young people and families throughout the country. Humanitarian aid to Croatia from SOS Children’s Village helps support families and children struggling with poverty.

– Sydney Lacey

Photo: Flickr