Conditions in reception facilities


Country Report: Conditions in reception facilities Last updated: 26/06/23


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Accommodation of applicants is organised in the two reception centres for applicants of international protection, one in Zagreb and the other in Kutina.

The renovation of Reception Centre in Kutina was finalised in 2022 and capacity of the centre increased. The Reception Centre in Kutina is primarily aimed at the accommodation of vulnerable applicants. The Reception Centre in Zagreb was renovated in 2019, subsequently improving the living conditions in the centre.

In 2020, due to COVID-19, one part of the Reception Centre in Zagreb was repurposed as a self-isolation space in order to reduce the possibility of spreading COVID-19 and protect other applicants and employees of the Ministry of Interior as well as organisations working in the Reception Centres. The self-isolation premises were also functioning in 2022.

In 2022, reception and accommodation of applicants for international protection was challenging due to the number of expressed intentions to apply for international protection and to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The practice of placing all newcomers in the Reception Centre in self-isolation, in accordance with health recommendations, continued until May 2022. In 2022 1,403 applicants for international protection went through self-isolation, 199 people were tested, and the total number of COVID-19 positive people was 48. Furthermore, all interested applicants were given the opportunity to be vaccinated, and in 2022 a total of 125 people were vaccinated.[1]

In early May 2022, in agreement with the epidemiologists of the Andrija Štampar Teaching Institute of Public Health”, the mandatory preventive isolation rules for the newly arrived applicants were lifted, and a smaller isolation area was maintained only for patients who were SARS CoV-2 positive and their contacts. Patients with symptoms were further tested and received appropriate treatment/medical follow-up when tested positive for SARS CoV-2.[2]

In March 2020, access to Reception Centres for Applicants of International Protection became subject to visitation restrictions, i.e. only personnel of the Ministry of Interior necessary for the normal functioning of the Centre was allowed entrance to the facilities meaning that civil society organizations had to stop with their activities in the centres, with the exception of the Croatian Red Cross and MdM.[3] The same organisation continued in 2022 and restrictions for nonessential entries to the centres remained in place until the end of 2022.


Overall living conditions

Applicants can go outside whenever they want, but have to be back by 11 pm. Under the House Rules the return to Centre after 11pm is possible with the permission of the officials of the Reception Centre. If they want to leave the centre for a few days, they also have to get permission from the Reception Centre.[4]

State of facilities

People in the reception centres share rooms. In Kutina, families share a room, unaccompanied children and single women are accommodated separately in rooms, while in Zagreb a maximum 4 persons can share a room.[5] Families are accommodated in the same room, but in Zagreb if there are more than 5 members of one family, they are given 2 rooms if possible.[6] There are sufficient showers and toilets and facilities are cleaned on a regular basis.

As reported by the Croatian Red Cross, after the renovation of Reception Centre in Zagreb in 2019, the overall living conditions have improved greatly. Since October 2021, accommodation of applicants was organized only in the Reception Centre in Zagreb, since the Reception Centre in Kutina was closed due to construction work on the facility. The renovation of Reception centre in Kutina was finalised by the end of 2022.

Food and religious practice

In both centres, residents receive three meals per day and pregnant women, recent mothers and children up to 16 years shall be also provided with an afternoon snack.[7]

Kitchens, equipped by the Croatian Red Cross, where applicants can prepare meals by themselves, are provided in the Reception Centres in Kutina,[8] and in Zagreb.[9] However, there is no information available whether kitchens were in function in 2020,2021 and 2022 due to pandemic.

No problems were reported in connection to the possibility of practicing religion. In the Reception Centre in Zagreb, there is a room for Muslim applicants to pray. In Kutina, applicants can practice their religion in their rooms.

The Islamic Religious Community in Croatia, takes care of the spiritual and other needs of applicants for international protection of the Muslim religion, e.g. by cooperating with officials at the Reception Centres for Applicants for International Protection in Zagreb in order to provide psychosocial support, religious ceremonies as well as other activities.[10]


Activities in the centres

The staff of the Ministry of Interior working in the reception centres was generally sufficient. However in 2022, the main challenges resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and highest numbers of applicants than ever recorded.

Access to reception centres was restricted from March 2020 until the end of 2022, with the exception of personnel of the Ministry of Interior, Croatian Red Cross and MdM who ensured the normal functioning of the facilities.[11] Apart from CRC and MdM, other civil society organisations were not present in the centres in the course of 2022. In 2022, as in previous years, most of the applicants remained in the centre for a very short period of time and fluctuation of applicants who  were  voluntarily  leaving the centre was significant. At the same time, the capacity of the centre was filling with the new persons with the same intensity.[12]

In 2022, Croatian Red Cross (CRC) continued to carry out activities with applicants for international protection in Reception Centres in Zagreb.[13] Applicants were provided with psychosocial support and social activities were organised.

CRC also provided assistance in the implementation of the medical programme in Reception Centres. More precisely, the CRC carried out the following activities in the Reception Centres:

  • reception of newly arrived applicants for international protection,
  • accommodation in isolation,
  • distribution of hygiene packages, baby diapers, baby hygiene, bedding, blankets, towels, clothing and footwear, including the purchase of clothing, footwear and underwear,
  • ensuring the availability of washing machines, washing powder,
  • arrangement of the interior and environment of the Reception Centre,
  • distribution of meals during the stay in isolation,
  • providing information on hygiene in order to promote hygienic habits and healthy lifestyles and health,
  • activities such as billiards, creative workshop, library, hair salon,
  • providing access to health care and assistance to applicants when going for medical examinations,
  • provision of medicines and other medical supplies for applicants on the recommendation of a doctor,
  • provision of food and other necessities on the recommendation of a doctor, including food for babies and young children,
  • provision of orthopaedic on the recommendation of a doctor,
  • procurement of medical equipment, accessories and supplies, including small furniture for outpatient clinics in Reception Centre,
  • organising care for children of single parents during their visits for medical examinations,
  • activities for children, especially preschool children,
  • support to parents in the care and upbringing of children,
  • assistance to children in school enrolment and learning,
  • Croatian language workshops,
  • informatics workshops for children and adults, and
  • providing psychosocial support to applicants for international protection through initial and individual and group interviews/support.

The work of the CRC team was organised in two shifts from 8 am to 4 pm, and from 12 pm to 8 pm, and on weekends and during holidays from 8 am to 2 pm. The focus of the CRC activity was on the reception of new applicants, as there was a great fluctuation of applicants throughout 2022. Depending on the epidemiological situation, the activities were adapted to the situation. However, activities that took place in continuity were those related to the psychosocial support, the health programme, medical assistance, procurement of aids and other medical supplies, online teaching and school-related activities (e.g. learning and helping with homework, learning the Croatian language).

Organisations continued with providing assistance and activities also outside the Reception Centre:

AYS[14] reported having sent,  in the summer of 2022, a request to the Ministry of Interior to hold two-day workshops for children in the Reception Centre. The request was rejected with the explanation that activities for children are already carried out in the framework of projects funded through AMIF so AYS organised workshops at the outdoor space opposite the Reception Centre.

In 2022, AYS continued to run a so-called ”free shop” where applicants for and beneficiaries of international protection could get clothes, shoes, hygiene items, dishes and other household items free of charge. According to AYS, applicants accommodated in the Reception Centre for Applicants of International Protection informed them that the distribution of clothing and hygiene in the Reception Centre was insufficient to meet needs for the whole month.

AYS also provides support in learning the Croatian language.  During 2022, AYS conducted 4 informal Croatian language courses lasting for 4 months. The course is intended for both applicants of international protection and persons who were granted international protection and it took place in the premises of the AYS integration centre. Each course started when it reached 10 participants. AYS conducted a literacy course for people who are illiterate in Latin Script, so that they can start with a language course. AYS reported that their organisation received more inquiries for the language courses compared to the capacity of the organization. Most of the participants were applicants for international protection. During the year, the demographics of the participants was changing. At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, a large number of applicants from Russia joined the course, while at the end of the year, the number of people from Burundi and Chechnya increased. In addition, AYS collaborated with Croaticum, which organizes courses at the B1 level for people who have already know some basics of Croatian language.

In 2022, in addition to psychological support, psychotherapy and art therapy activities, the Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma (RCT) also carried out activities focused on social mentoring, preparation for the labor market and employment, contacts with employers, support in terms of accompaniment and translation when exercising rights in the social welfare system, socio-cultural orientation workshops and creative workshops, and provided support to asylum seekers at the  risk of homelessness. RCT reported that their request to continue with providing activities in the Reception Centre for Applicants of International Protection, was rejected.[15]

The Centre for children, youth and family Modus provided psychosocial counselling.[16]

The Croatian Law Centre’s (CLC) lawyers were providing legal counseling to interested applicants in CLC premises, but also through phone and email.

Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) did not have access to the Reception Centre, so most of their activities targeting applicants for international protection took place in their premises or in premises of collaborating organisations in 2022. In 2022, employees and volunteers of the CPS provided applicants for international protection with information on the system of international protection, as well as with legal support and counselling. CPS provided legal assistance to applicants for international protection in CPS premises but also online, by e-mail, and by telephone. Although CPS did not implement activities in the Reception Centre for Applicants for International Protection, the Ministry of Interior, at the CPS’s request, placed CPS’ posters containing information about the possibility of free legal aid in the CPS premises, in the Reception Centre. In addition, CPS carried out other activities such as providing support in learning the Croatian language, providing information about life in Croatia, as well as psychosocial support.[17]

IOM implemented the voluntary return and reintegration programme (

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, access to Reception Centres for applicants of international protection in Zagreb was limited to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, so IOM had to adjust its activities, relying on officials working in the Centre and employees of non-governmental organisations that provide necessary services to applicants.

However, from March 2022, due to the easing of the pandemic situation, the IOM restarted carrying out regular visits every two weeks to the Reception Center for Applicants for International Protection in Zagreb with the aim of informing applicants about the possibility of voluntary return, and conducting consultations with interested persons. If necessary, IOM organized voluntary return for the applicants who decided to return.

In 2022, a sufficient number of informative multilingual posters and leaflets were provided inside the Reception Centre, which referred applicants to IOM in case of a desire for voluntary return, In addition, open communication channels for access to information are regularly maintained with employees of the Ministry of Interior and non-governmental organizations working in the Reception Centre.[18]


Duration of stay in the centres

No information on the average length of stay in the reception centres in 2022 is available.  However, in practice, applicants do not stay for long periods in reception centres as most of them leave the country after a few weeks or even days. Croatia is still a transit country and it is estimated that more than 70-80% of applicants for international protection leave the country. In 2022, there was a great discrepancy between expressed intentions and submitted applications for international protection. Namely, 12,872 persons expressed their intention to seek international protection, while only 2,727 of them submitted application for international protection. Although there are no official statistics from which it can be conclude that all of 10145 applicants have left Croatia, the unofficial information stipulates that the high number of applicants after they expressed intention, did not appear at the Reception Centre for Applicants for International Protection within the prescribed deadline, which suggests that they have continued their journey to other EU countries.

In the regular procedure, applicants can be accommodated in the Reception Centre until the completion of the procedure and a final decision is taken on the case (at first instance and during the administrative dispute). When a final negative decision on the application for international protection has been taken and the time for executing the order to leave the country has elapsed, the right to receiving reception conditions ends.




[1] 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:

[2]  Information provided by MdM, 14 February 2023.

[3] Ministry of Interior, Applicants for international protection in the Republic of Croatia are not infected with the coronavirus, 18 March 2020 available at:

[4] Article 56(6) LITP.

[5] Information provided by the Croatian Red Cross, 18 March 2019.

[6]  Information provided by the Croatian Red Cross, 18 March 2019.

[7] Article 20 Ordinance on the Realisation of Material Reception Conditions.

[8] Information provided by the Croatian Red Cross, 18 March 2019.

[9] Information provided by the Croatian Red Cross, 20 December 2019.

[10] Ministry of Interior, ‘Working together to successfully integrate asylum seekers’, 3 March 2019, available in Croatian at:

[11] Ministry of Interior, ‘Applicants for International Protection in the Republic of Croatia are not infected with the coronavirus’, 18 March 2020, available in Croatian at:

[12]  Information provided by the Croatian Red Cross, 18 January 2023.

[13]  Information provided by the Croatian Red Cross, 18 January 2023.

[14] Information provided by Are You Syrious, 3 February 2023.

[15] Information provided by the Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma, 18 January 2023.

[16] Information provided by the Centre Modus, 9 January 2023

[17] Information provided by Centre for Peace Studies, 18 January 2023.

[18] Information provided by IOM, 18 January 2023.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation