Caritas Croatia was originally founded in 1934 but then re-founded in 1992 to respond to the humanitarian needs of those affected by the Croatian War during the early 1990s, when it provided shelter, clothing, food, fuel and medicines to war orphans and families affected by the hostilities and reception centres and rehabilitation support for refugees.
Today Caritas Croatia aims to remove the causes of poverty and to promote solidarity and social justice, acting as the voice for the poor and marginalised. Caritas Croatia’s extensive work includes humanitarian aid for emergency situations, advocacy work for the vulnerable, poverty alleviation, promoting voluntarism and strengthening the network of parish Caritas, collaboration with other Croatian Bishops’ Conference offices and diocesan institutions.
Despite being a relatively small Caritas organisation, Caritas Croatia has been active in distributing humanitarian aid for emergency situations to countries all over the world, such as Kosovo, Turkey, Venezuela, El Salvador, India, Iraq and Iran, Eastern Africa, Syria and Pakistan. Central to Caritas Croatia’s disaster response work is collaboration with international, national and local organizations to ensure an effective and efficient framework is in place.
When the devastating floods struck Czech Republic in 2002, apart from sending money, Caritas Croatia was the first humanitarian organisation in Croatia to send its own volunteers. Their humanitarian relief assistance has been instrumental to relief efforts following the epic tsunami and earthquake disaster in South Asia in 2004 and 2005, Hurricane Katrina in the USA, food insecurity crises in Kenya and the calamitous earthquakes in Indonesia in 2009 and Haiti in 2010, tsunami earthquake victims in Japan in 2011 and refugees from Syria in 2013.
Fundamental to Caritas Croatia’s objectives is advocacy work to change the structures of injustice prevalent in Croatia and the world. One of the best examples was Caritas Croatia intervention with a HIV positive little girl so she could attend a public school. Her education had previously been disrupted due to social stigma.
Caritas Croatia collaborates with diocesan offices in strengthening network of family counselling centres to offer expert assistance and counselling to those young marriages and families in need of spiritual and psychological help.
Our education department promotes parish Caritas development and solidarity through initiatives such as special events, public promotions, lectures, workshops, meditative prayer groups. We are also engaged in helping the Church and people in Bosnia and Herzegovina through a Lenten fundraising campaign whose funds are distributed in Caritas network in Bosnia and Herzegovina in educational, social and health projects as well as strengthening small entrepreneurship. During the Christmas campaign, we raise funds for the poorest families in Croatia by distributing them in our network of 16 diocesan Caritas offices.
As the official body of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, Caritas Croatia main office is in Zagreb which employs a staff of 6 people. The Secretariat office serves as the focal point for the 16 Caritas diocesan offices and the 1,600 parishes in Croatia, working closely with them to develop the most effective solutions to prevent social problems.
As a member of the Caritas Internationalis confederation, Caritas Croatia works in partnership with the global Caritas network answering humanitarian appeals all over the world. As member of Caritas Europa, we strive to promote Catholic values of Church Social Teaching in our society and in supporting advocacy efforts on EU level in fighting social exclusion and inequality, in exchange of knowledge, experience and expertise.
Bishop Josip Mrzljak
Rev. Fabijan Svalina