Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2017, 11:43 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Croatia

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Croatia , 25 May 2004, available at: [accessed 23 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

About 209,000 Croatians, nearly all of them ethnic Serbs, remained refugees from the Balkan wars of the 1990s, 189,400 in Serbia and Montenegro and 19,500 in Bosnia. During the year, only 9,300 refugees repatriated, 7,300 from Serbia, and 2,000 from Bosnia. An estimated 123,200 have returned to Croatia since the war, including 88,200 Serbs. In contrast, 233,600 internally displaced persons, a majority of them Croats, had returned to their localities by year-end 2003. Only 12,600 people remained internally displaced, after 5,700 returned during 2003.

Croatia hosted 4,200 refugees, 3,700 from Bosnia and 460 from Serbia at year-end 2003. It received 63 asylum applications during the year and rejected all of the applications, except four whose cases were still pending.

New Developments

Croatia still retained a series of impediments to Serb returns. Only in 2002 and 2003, did Croatia pass laws offering a housing solution to refugees and others who fled their homes but still held tenancy rights in their socially owned apartments, common in the former Yugoslavia. While not restoring occupancy rights to these apartments, the laws allow them to apply for public housing, to be completed in 2006, 11 years after the conflict ended. Since agreeing with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the European Union and others to remove, temporary occupants of nearly 20,000 housing units by the end of 2002, the government had "administratively" restored only 15,800 to their owners by the end of 2003. Yet the owners still had not regained their homes in many cases, because the temporary occupants had not left and authorities had not evicted them.

The government continued to prosecute Serbs more aggressively than Croats for war crimes, arresting nine returning Serbs. Two were released, and seven await trial, five of them from behind bars.

The government typically detained undocumented asylum seekers for a year on average. Last year the government passed the Law on Foreigners and the Law on Asylum. The laws included a provision calling for the release of asylum seekers and others after three months and generally meet international protection standards, according to UNHCR, but still await implementation.

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