31 December 2010 |

Croatia: Internal displacement in brief

As of December 2010

 

At the end of the 1991-1995 war, 250,000 people were internally displaced within Croatia, including 32,000 ethnic Serbs. Since then almost all the ethnic Croat IDPs have returned to their homes, while most of the ethnic Serbs displaced have resettled in Serbia or in the majority-Serb Danube region of Croatia. In 2010, 2,300 people remained internally displaced in the country, 1,600 of them ethnic Serbs.

The number of IDPs decreased by an average of 4,500 per year between 2002 and 2005, but only by a few hundred a year from then on. Only a few state-run collective centres for IDPs remained open in 2010.

The main obstacles to the return of the remaining ethnic Croat IDPs were the limited social services and livelihood opportunities in their places of origin, whereas ethnic Serb IDPs continued to struggle to assert their rights. It is estimated that only half of ethnic Serb returns have proved sustainable, because perpetrators of violence have not been punished, their rights over their original homes have not been recognised, or they have been unable to re-establish livelihoods or receive full pension entitlements.

Successive governments have made progress in the response to displacement. They have adopted legislation ensuring the participation of minorities, restitution of private property and reconstruction of destroyed homes. Almost 150,000 housing units have been rebuilt since 1995, while over 19,000 occupied housing units have been repossessed and returned to their owners. In 2010, a large increase in the social housing budget and a new action plan drawn up with international partners highlighted the government’s resolve to address the outstanding housing needs of all communities.

The EU, the Council of Europe and its Commissioner for Human Rights, and the RSG on IDPs have commended the government but have urged greater efforts. In March 2010, the government committed to continue this effort at a regional conference on durable solutions for refugees and IDPs.