The previous Action plan for the integration of beneficiaries of international protection, which covered the period from 2017-2019, foresaw the adoption of a relocation plan once a year to monitor the integration of persons granted international protection based on their needs. However, this was never applied in practice. As the Integration Action Plan expired at the end of 2019, a new one was still under development in 2022, although it was planned that it would cover the period from 2020 to 2022. By the end of 2022, the new Action Plan was still not adopted.
In October 2020, the Office for Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities of the Government of the Republic of Croatia held its first meeting of integration coordinators at the local level (within the project ‘‘INCLuDE’’) where the draft Action Plan for the integration of persons granted international protection for year 2021-2023 was presented, emphasising the importance of including as many local and regional self-government units as possible.
On 14 November 2019, the Government issued a decision on the composition of the new Permanent Commission for the Implementation of Integration of Foreigners in Croatian Society. The latter is composed of representatives of: state administration’s bodies, Governmental Offices, local and regional self-government units, public institutions as well as of a representative of a non-governmental organisation. The composition of this new commission has been modified insofar as it provides for the appointment of a representative of local and regional unit and a representative of non-governmental organisation, which were not part of the previous commission.
The aforementioned Decision further foresees the establishment of a Working Group of the Permanent Commission for the Implementation of Integration of Foreigners in Croatian Society. The Working Group prepares, for the Government of the Republic of Croatia, proposals of national strategies and plans in the field of integration of refugees or foreigners under subsidiary protection, ensures operational implementation of planned tasks, reports to the Permanent Commission on implementation and progress or possible difficulties related to planned activities and performs other tasks entrusted to them by the Permanent Commission. In January 2020, the Governmental Office for cooperation with NGOs published a public call for proposal of representatives of civil society organizations for membership in the Working Group. In May 2020, beside representatives of various institutions and competent ministries, representative of UNHCR, the Croatian Red Cross, the Centre for Peace Studies and the Croatian Law Centre were appointed as members of working group.
In June 2022, a session of the Permanent Commission for the Implementation of the Integration of Foreigners into Croatian Society was held. In the session, a Decision was adopted for the establishment and appointment of members of the Working Group for the preparation of the Protocol of Procedures for the Integration of Persons Granted International Protection. The meeting was also convened with the aim of exchanging information on normative changes and improved practices in providing guaranteed services to persons under international and temporary protection. At the session held on 19 December 2022, the Permanent Commission unanimously adopted the Protocol on Procedures for the Integration of Persons Granted International Protection. The Protocol was prepared in a participatory process and through cooperation with representatives of the academia, local self-government units and competent departmental bodies. The Working Group for the preparation of the Protocol on Procedures for the Integration of Persons Granted International Protection, consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Labour, the Pension System, Family and Social Policy, the Ministry of Science and Education, the Ministry of Health, the Central State Office for reconstruction and housing, the Croatian Employment Service, the City of Zagreb, City of Karlovac and City of Varaždin.
In 2022, the new Law on Recognition and Evaluation of Foreign Educational Qualifications entered into force. The Law prescribes the possibility of evaluating foreign educational qualifications for the purpose of continuing education at the same or higher level of education and for the purpose of accessing the labour market for beneficiaries of international and temporary protection and their family members.
In 2021, the City of Zagreb prepared the draft of the ‘Action plan of the City of Zagreb for integration of beneficiaries of international protection for the period from 2021 to 2022’. The draft was under public consultation until 15 July 2021.
The Action Plan of the City of Zagreb for the Integration of Applicants for and Beneficiaries of International Protection for 2022 was adopted in January 2022, making the City of Zagreb the first unit of local and regional self-government in Croatia to adopt such strategic document. Measures and activities include social protection, health care, language learning and education, work and employment, strengthening local capacities and intercity and international cooperation. The action plan of the City of Zagreb was adopted for 2022 because it was one of the activity within CONNECTION project – CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration action, which ended in 2022. As part of the new project UNITES – Urban InTEgration Strategies through co-design, the development of a new action plan is envisaged.
In May 2022, eight civil society organisations signed a cooperation agreement with the City of Zagreb to carry out activities from the Action Plan of the City of Zagreb for the integration of applicants for international protection and persons granted international protection for the year 2022. These activities are part of the project Connection – CONNEcting Cities Towards Integration actiON project.
In 2022, the integration.zagreb.hr website, funded by the Connection project, was created. The website contains information on the rights and services provided by the City of Zagreb for applicants of international protection, persons granted international protection and persons under temporary protection, i.e. displaced persons from Ukraine. The information is published in Croatian, English, Arabic, Farsi and Ukrainian and refers to services in the fields of social protection, health care, education, employment, free legal aid and cultural activities organised by the cultural centres of the City of Zagreb.
In 2021, the Ministry of Interior published frequently asked questions and answers in regard to status of international protection in several language.
Basic information for the Integration of Foreigners can be found in an amended guide for integration which was prepared by the Croatian Governmental Office for Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities in 2019. The guide is available in 7 languages (Croatian, English, French, Ukrainian, Arabic, Urdu and Farsi). In 2022, the Office for Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities published an updated edition of the Guide for Integration in Croatian and Ukrainian.
In May 2022, the Office for Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities issued the publication Social Inclusion of Persons Granted International Protection in the Republic of Croatia – data collection system development and recommendations, which is available in Croatian and English. The purpose of the research was the creation of a database on the social inclusion of persons granted international protection and the establishment of a data collection system that will serve for the systematic monitoring of the successful inclusion in society of persons granted international protection. The main goal is to monitor and evaluate the effects of integration policies in individual areas using a series of indicators.
In April 2022, the first meeting of the coordinators (representatives of competent bodies and public institutions in key areas of integration) for the collection of data on the social inclusion of persons granted international protection was held. During May and June 2022, several schools in Zagreb, Osijek and Sisak organised social actions in the community. The aim was to empower local communities to accept citizens of third countries. The actions were organised as part of the project “INCLuDE of the Office for Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities, together with students, school employees, and residents of local communities. 
In 2021, the Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities produced an informative video to raise awareness of the importance of the successful integration of persons granted international protection. The objective of the video is to promote the acceptance and inclusion in society of third-country nationals seeking international protection and those granted it through a clear and concise overview of their rights and obligations and the challenges they face along the way.
In 2022, the video was translated in seven languages (Arabic, English, Farsi, French, Kurdish, Pashto and Turkish).
In February 2023, the Office for Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities issued a brochure “The Rights of Persons Granted International and Temporary Protection”. The brochure contains information on the available mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights and the suppression of discrimination in Croatia, especially in the context of international and temporary protection. The brochure is available in twelve languages: Arabic, English, Farsi, Filipino, French, Hindi, Croatian, Nepali, Pashto, Spanish, Turkish and Ukrainian.
In 2022, the Governmental Office for Gender Equality, in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior and UNHCR, published a leaflet intended to inform victims of gender-based violence about available protection options and services. The leaflet is intended primarily for female migrants, refugees and applicants for international protection, although it acknowledges that gender-based violence can be committed against men. It is available in 8 languages (Arabic, Croatian, English, Farsi, French, Kurdish, Turkish and Urdu).
In 2021, the Ministry of Interior created the application “Resettle in Croatia”. The application was created with the aim of providing faster and easier access to information and guidelines for persons who arrive in Croatia under a resettlement programme, and who are granted international protection upon arrival. The application was developed as part of the project “Establishment of a resettlement mechanism” co-financed by the European Union from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. In addition to information on the different steps, i.e. the procedure in the Republic of Türkiye and after the arrival in the Republic of Croatia for persons from the resettlement programme, the application offers information on the rights that persons acquire after obtaining international protection and how to exercise these rights and obligations in the Republic of Croatia. The application further offers all persons who have been granted asylum or subsidiary protection in the Republic of Croatia useful information on all important aspects of life in the Republic of Croatia from health care, education, work, housing to easier access to activities necessary for daily functioning. The application is available in Croatian, English, Arabic and Kurdish.
In 2022, IOM Croatia, in cooperation with IOM Slovenia and Croatian Ministry of Interior, prepared brochures and posters as well as video clips for applicants for and beneficiaries of international protection on vaccination against COVID-19 in 5 different languages. In July 2022, the IOM, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior, has started the implementation of the project “Technical assistance in the integration of third-country nationals into the Republic of Croatia”. The project is broadly directed at migrants, including, applicants for and beneficiaries of international protection. During 2022, an analysis of the legislative framework in the field of integration for third-country nationals was carried out, as well as an analysis of stakeholders in the field of integration at the national, regional and local levels.
On the ‘Help’ website run by UNHCR, persons granted international protection can also find information about their rights, obligations and the services available to them in Croatia. In 2022, UNHCR Croatia presented the Toolkit for Effective Inclusion of Refugees, developed by UNHCR and the Migration Policy Group, to local and regional authorities, local NGOs, representatives of public services and other key stakeholders. In addition, in 2022 UNHCR launched an awareness-raising campaign in the ten largest Croatian cities on the World Refugee Day, which included the creation of visual works in key urban locations by renowned Croatian artists. In addition, UNHCR organized a conference for Croatian journalists on the topic of reporting on refugee inclusion (increasing visibility in the media, ethical dilemmas and professional standards when reporting on refugees). Second year of partnership with IKEA Croatia, which provided three-month fully paid internship opportunities for 11 refugees in IKEA Zagreb, has successfully continued.
In 2022, the association RODA (Parents in Action), with the support of UNICEF, created a website (https://www.parentingincroatia.eu/) where basic information is provided to families on the move and families with children staying in Croatia. For now, the texts are available in Croatian and Ukrainian, and the plan is to adapt and translate the texts into English, Arabic, Farsi and French.
In January 2022, Croatian Law Centre started the implementation of the project “Complementary pathways for Southeast Europe – COMP4SEE”. The project aims to contribute to the development of complementary pathways by creating new models of private sponsorship and by making and advocating recommendations for improving national systems in the area of family reunification.
As reported in previous years, beneficiaries of international protection still face challenges in exercising their rights, as detailed in this Chapter. The MIPEX 2020 ranking listed Croatia among the countries categorised as Equality on paper – Slightly unfavourable.
In the summer 2020, UNHCR conducted a so-called participatory assessment, a process through which consultations with refugees are carried out. The participatory assessment confirmed that COVID-19 had an impact on all areas of refugee lives, from language learning, access to gainful employment to social integration into local communities. The lack of language skills and the need to have additional Croatian language classes were repeatedly mentioned throughout the assessment, covering employability (especially for women), additional training, communication with neighbours, doing errands and generally through their perception of being accepted and integrated into society.
Lack of Croatian language courses was reported in 2022 as well. The Ministry of Interior terminated its cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Education, among other things, due to its failure to hold language courses. Since language courses financed from the state budget are not available, this constitutes a problem for persons under international protection who are located outside the capital city of Zagreb and do not have access to organizations that hold informal courses.
The Ombudsman’s report for 2022 states that according to the Ministry of Interior, the above mentioned contract was terminated because the Ministry of Science and Education applied it in a way that contrary to the principles of good financial management and the rules of the profession. In addition, the report states that Croatian language courses, when conducted, are organized only at A1 and A2 levels, while B2 level is required for performing jobs and obtaining citizenship. Therefore, the Ombudswoman recommended to the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Science and Education to find a way to finance and implement customized B-level Croatian language courses for persons granted international protection as soon as possible.
Refugees often face multiple challenges while attempting to successfully integrate into local labour markets, such as language barriers, difficulties in recognition of previously acquired skills, and limited social and professional networks in the area where they are looking for jobs.
In 2021, Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) published a short thematic manual on how to facilitate integration into the Croatian labour market. The manual is divided in three parts, one part aimed for third-country nationals and the other two for NGOs and employers on how to help third – country nationals with integration into the labour market in Croatia.
According to Ombudsperson’s report for 2022, civil society organizations stressed that there are differences in access to rights for persons displaced from Ukraine and for beneficiaries under international protection.
The main problems in integration identified by the Ombudsperson are: non-implementation of Croatian language courses, delays in preparatory classes for children, and difficulties in accessing high education.
The Croatian Red Cross reported that beneficiaries of international protection continued to face challenges in exercising their rights in the health care system and accessing housing after two years of subsidized housing. Croatian language courses are still problematic as reported by CRC.
The Centre for Peace studies (CPS) reported that in 2022, beneficiaries of international protection encountered a number of institutional barriers as well as discrimination practices in exercising their rights. CPS reported problems relating to Croatian language courses, the access to the healthcare system, delays in preparatory classes for children, challenges in accessing high education and exercising rights of the students, and the access to the housing system. CPS also reported problems in the recognition of qualifications and notification of diplomas when persons have documents proving their education, as well as a lack of customised procedures for recognition of qualifications when they do not have documents.
Civil Rights Project Sisak reported problems with the access to housing after expiration of two years of subsidised housing.
Are You Syrious? (AYS) reported problems within the system of subsidised housing as in practice, accommodation is waived for several months. AYS reported problems with accessing preparatory classes for children and higher education, as well as challenges within the health system.
Civis Mundi, which carries out activities in the area of the cities of Rijeka and Sisak and the municipality of Viškovo, reported problems with the Croatian language courses, small and inadequate accommodation facilities, challenges in accessing the higher education and employment.
In overcoming those challenges, beneficiaries are assisted by various NGOs:
- At the end of November 2018, the Platform “Danube Compass” was introduced to help with migrants’ economic and social integration into society. The Danube Compass covers living, working, language learning, education, daily life and health and offers an overview of main rights. The Croatian version brings content available in Croatian and English but also in Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. “Danube Compass“ is thus a central place for all integration services that migrants can use, as well as the institutions and organisations that work with migrants. In 2021, Danube Compass, has been updated and translated into Arabic, English, Farsi and Urdu.
- In the course of 2022, Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma (RCT), carried out activities with beneficiaries of international protection related to the access to the labour market, assistance in family reunification procedure and activities with unaccompanied children.
- Centre for children, youth and family –Modus provided psychosocial counselling. In addition, they provided assistance with learning for children under international protection.
- In 2022, the Civil Rights Project Sisak provided psychosocial assistance and free legal aid, including assistance in finding adequate housing. They issued a manual that, among other categories, targets beneficiaries granted international protection.
- In March 2020, the Ministry of Interior and the NGO “Centre for Cultural Dialogue” (CCD) concluded an agreement on the allocation of financial resources for the implementation of the project “New Neighbours – inclusion of persons who have been granted international protection in Croatian society”, aiming at improving their living conditions (through AMIF). The implementation of the project began in April 2020. The project is implemented in partnership with the Islamic Community in Croatia and with the support of the Ministry of Interior. The aim of the project is to increase the success of integration in the three years for 200 people in Croatia who have been granted international protection. CCD assists beneficiaries of international protection through seven mobile teams composed of a caseworker and cultural mediator in Zagreb, Osijek, Slavonski Brod, Sisak, Karlovac, Rijeka, Pula and Zadar. An integral part of their assistance consists in preparing individual integration plans and assistance with access to services. If beneficiaries of international protection accept their services, they will receive an information package from the Ministry of Interior and the CCD will be notified. The project ended in March 2023.
- The Croatian Red Cross (CRC) in 2022 provided support to beneficiaries of international protection under their integration programme in the field of health care, employment and family reunification. CRC also provided group activities such as going to museums, Science Park, sports, educational activities for beneficiaries in Zagreb, Karlovac and Sisak. A leaflet on the first steps in integration of refugees is available at CRC’s website.
- In 2022, AYS assisted beneficiaries of international protection with activities on access to the labour market, which in practice meant assisting them in drafting resumes, finding suitable jobs in rapport to beneficiaries’ education, work experience and contacting potential employers. AYS also provided individual consultations by phone and in person on the rights of persons under international protection particularly regarding rights from the social welfare system, pension insurance, health care. Beneficiaries were also assisted in several health care institutions (health centres, hospitals, dental practice, etc.) Support to school-aged children was also provided in learning the language, mastering school materials, cooperating with schools and mediating in the communication of parents with the school. Assistance was also provided in enrolling in primary and secondary school, as well as in higher education and adult education. AYS continued to run a so-called FREE SHOP – a place where applicants for and beneficiaries of international protection can get clothes, shoes, hygiene items, dishes and other household items free of charge. AYS also provided 4 informal initial Croatian language courses for applicants for international protection and beneficiaries with granted international protection. Due to increase in unemployment among persons under international protection, in cooperation with the Solidarna foundation and the association Wir Packen’s An, AYS continued with the support program in the form of covering one rent or offering one-time aid to cover the cost of food for people in unfavourable socio-economic conditions. Throughout 2022, they helped 29 households. Throughout 2022, AYS prepared leaflets on the rights of beneficiaries of international protection. Leaflets are available in Arabic, Persian, Kurdish and Spanish.
- In 2022, lawyers of the Croatian Law Centre, as UNHCR’s implementing partner, provided legal information to beneficiaries of international protection in person, over the phone, WhatsApp and e-mail. In 2022, CLC updated Croatian version of the handbook “Integration of refugees into Croatian Society- legislation and realization in practice” ” with the financial support of UNHCR. The booklet is intended to all those actors who provide direct assistance and support to persons who were granted international protection in Croatia, but also to all other actors in the field of integration assisting such persons. The booklet is available in Croatian and English and contains six chapters: Framework for the Integration of Refugees into Croatian Society; The Provision of Social Services to Persons Granted International Protection at the Local Level in Croatia; An Overview of the Standards Regarding the Right to work and Access to the Labour Market of Persons Granted International Protection; An Overview of International, European and National Standards of the Recognition of Qualifications of Refugees; The Concept of Family Reunification in the Republic of Croatia, Access to Free Legal Aid for Persons Granted International Protection.  In 2022, CLC held a second module of trainings on the topic Development and strengthening of inter-sector cooperation in local self-government units. Education was a part of the Government’s Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities’ project “Include – Interdepartmental Cooperation on Strengthening of the Third-country Nationals”. Three two-day educations were held in Zagreb, Rijeka and Osijek.
- The Center for Peace Studies (CPS) provided different types of support to persons granted international protection such as individual informal courses on the Croatian language, support in accessing the labour market, information on life in Croatia and general psychosocial support. Furthermore, their lawyer and the volunteer lawyers provided legal information and advice on various status issues.
- In the cities of Rijeka and Sisak and the municipality of Viškovo, the CIVIS MUNDI association assisted beneficiaries of international protection in 2022. Their activities included the following: donations of hygiene items, clothes and shoes, appliances; organisation of city tours and its surroundings in order for beneficiaries to familiarize themselves with the place of residence; helping with the enrolment of persons granted international protection in an intensive Croatian language course; creative workshops, assisting in employment; helping in everyday life (enrolling in sports activities); organisation of psychosocial support groups  From May 2020 to December 2022, Civis Mundi implemented the Project: “Improvements of the Integration Procedure”
 The Government of the Republic of Croatia – Office for Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities, Action plan for integration of persons who have been granted international protection for the period from 2017 to 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/34i1Eng and in Croatian at: https://bit.ly/2Xi0bfd.
 Croatian Government, ‘Decision on Establishment of the Permanent Commission for Implementation of Integration of Aliens into Croatian Society’, 15 November 2019, available in Croatian at: https://bit.ly/2z5RSJC. amended on 30 October 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3tR67cQ.
 Croatian Government, ‘Information meeting of the Permanent Commission for Implementation of Integration of Aliens into Croatian Society Held’, 23 December 2019, available in Croatian at: https://bit.ly/2UPn6Nu.
 The Government of the Republic of Croatia – Office for Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities, The 3rd session of the Permanent Commission for the Integration of Foreigners into Croatian Society was held; available at: https://bit.ly/3OPIkqV.
 Office for Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities: The Protocol on Procedures for the Integration of Persons Granted International Protection has been published, available at: http://bit.ly/3z1cWww.
 Office for Human Rights and the Rights of National Minorities: Publication Social Inclusion of Persons Granted International Protection in the Republic of Croatia – data collection system development and recommendations, issued, available at: http://bit.ly/3lx3o9D.
 EMN HR, Video: Inclusion of a person under international protection into Croatian society, 16 September 2021, https://bit.ly/3Ms4kof. The video is a part of the INCLuDE project – Interdepartmental Cooperation in Empowering Third-Country Nationals co-financed by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), which aims to strengthen the preconditions for social inclusion of third-country nationals with emphasis on persons granted international protection in the Republic of Croatia.
 Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities: Video “Inclusion of persons under international protection in Croatian society” translated into 7 languages: Arabic, English, Farsi, French, Kurdish, Pashto and Turkish, available at: http://bit.ly/3lx4rq5. The videos are available at the following links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buppk_IR7MI; https://youtu.be/TshH_VF6TtY; https://youtu.be/1h12SRmaYQw; https://youtu.be/hGI15wrq8ZA; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dJ6x8_5VxI; https://youtu.be/mNvzuhIMFHY; https://youtu.be/WUrLp6kvJMc.
 Croatian Law Centre, The Croatian Asylum System in 2022 – National Report. The report was prepared as part of the project “Legal Assistance and Capacity Building for Access to Territory and Asylum in Croatia“, with financial support of the UNHCR Croatia: available in English at: https://bit.ly/434T7RL.
 Information provided by RODA, 6 December 2022.
 Equality on paper means that immigrants do not enjoy equal opportunities. This group of countries goes only halfway towards providing immigrants with basic rights and a secure future. Policies may encourage the public to see immigrants as subordinates, not equal and not potential citizens. See the Mipex key findings here: https://www.mipex.eu/key-findings.
 Information provided by Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma, 18 January 2023; AYS. 3 February 2023.
 Information provided by AYS. 3 February 2023.
 Information provided by CRC, 18 January 2023.
 Information provided by Centre for Peace Studies, 18 January 2023.
 Information provided by Civil Rights Project Sisak, 9 January 2023.
 Information provided by Are You Syrious, 3 February 2023.
 Information provided by Civis Mundi, 14 February 2023
 The Danube Compass was created under the project “Danube Region Information Platform for Economic Integration of Migrants (DRIM)”, funded by the European Union’s INTER-REGs programme.
 Information provided by the Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma, 18 January 2023.
 Information provided by the Centre Modus, 9 January 2023
 EMN, Migration Bulletin number 31, August 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2QRsD6C.
 Information provided by Are You Syrious, 3 February 2023.
 Croatian Law Centre, The integration of refugees into Croatian society: Legislation and realisation in practice, available in Croatian at: https://bit.ly/3tCsO5u; and in English at: https://bit.ly/3MxIqjf.
 Information provided by the Centre for Peace Studies, 18 January 2023.
 Information provided by Civis Mundi, 14 February 2023.