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2003-07-07 08:11:00
Embassy Zagreb
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						UNCLAS  ZAGREB 001546 



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 66319





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 66319


1. We are pleased to submit two applications to
PRM,s Ambassador,s Refugee Fund Program aimed at providing
support to refugee communities. The first request is to
provide resource support (totaling about 7,000 USD) to a
community center and primary school in Centingrad, a town
with a sizeable Muslim population, many of whom are returnees
to Croatia. The second request is to provide various types
of medical/surgical equipment to Knin hospital (totaling
about 13,000 USD), which provides important medical services
to thousands of refugees who have returned to the area. We
have visited the community center and school in Centingrad,
which is currently under construction by a joint team of U.S.
and Croatian military officers and the Knin hospital in
recent weeks. An Embassy panel, chaired by the DCM,
determined that these projects, out of a list of twelve, were
the ones where PRM funds would have the greatest impact on
refugee returns and the community at large. End Summary.

Panel Selects Projects for PRM Program

2. Following extensive research on a dozen projects submitted
for consideration for PRM,s Ambassador,s Fund Program, the
DCM recently convened a panel to review the list of proposed
projects and to make final selections. Panel members agreed
that supporting the projects in the town of Centingrad and in
the city of Knin would yield the most benefit. Both are
projects that will benefit refugee populations and the entire
community at large. They will continue to support
reconciliation efforts that are underway. In addition, both
are very specific in nature and will require little effort
with implementation. Post has reviewed and confirmed the
estimated prices of the equipment that has been requested,
and is confident that the prices will fit within the $20,000
cap set by PRM. Post will play a direct role in overseeing
the purchases and delivery of the requested items.
Background material on each project is provided below.

A Muslim Community in Croatia

3. The town of Centingrad is located about two hours from
Zagreb by car. The town, which consisted of 4,800 residents
prior to the war and had an ethnic makeup of 66 percent

Croat, 25 percent Serb, and 9 percent Muslim, was heavily
damaged. Since 1998, refugee returns to the town have
increased as more houses are being reconstructed and
infrastructure is repaired. The population now stands at
about 2,500, with Croats making up 78 percent of the
population, and Serbs and Muslims the balance. Muslims are
now the second largest ethnic group due to an increase in
returns. The town has received very little support from the
Croatian Government. It has one of the largest Muslim
communities in Croatia.

4. We recently met with the local Imam, Azim Durmic, and the
president of the school, Matija Stepic, who told us that the
two most important needs for the community were at the
primary school and community center. The school in
Centingrad had been completely destroyed, forcing many of the
town,s almost fifty children to travel some fifteen miles to
attend school in a neighboring municipality. But help is on
the way, primarily due to assistance from the United States.
The Imam boasted about the fact that USAID is providing some
assistance helping to restore electricity, and U.S. and
Croatian military personnel were currently reconstructing the
primary school. Construction will be completed by August 1.

5. Stepic told us that the school will need about 100
compulsory school literature books, 3-4 computers, a
television, videocassette recorder, and sports equipment for
outdoor sports before it opens. USG assistance with the
above-mentioned items would be appreciated. We later visited
the construction site of the school and spoke with the U.S.
military commander in charge of the project who confirmed the
timeframe for completion. The estimated cost of providing
the items the school requested is $6,000.

6. As for the community center, Imam Duric explained that it
is a place where all of the citizens gather to read or
complete paperwork for citizenship papers or to apply for
various types of social assistance. Based in a three-storied
house, we noticed that the community center is indeed the
gathering place for adults and children. The Imam said that
because of the various roles the community center plays, it

would be useful for it to have a medium-sized copier to
complete various types of paperwork and a television and
videocassette recorder so that the children could watch
various educational and other shows during summer months and
after school. The estimated cost of these items is
approximately $1,000.

Knin Hospital In Need of Help

7. The city of Knin was the capital of the so-called &Serb
Krajina8 prior to the war. During this period, Knin had a
predominantly Serb population and its hospital was considered
one of the best in Croatia. However, the effects of the war
and the virtual neglect by the Croatian government since the
war have taken a severe toll on the hospital,s operations
over the past eight years. Although the ethnic balance in
Knin has changed (it is now roughly 65 percent Croat and 35
percent Serb after a significant infusion of Bosnian Croats
who were resettled in the region after Serbs fled their
homes), many Serbs are returning to Knin and the hospital
continues to provide services to all of Knin,s citizens.

8. We traveled to Knin to meet with the manager of the
hospital, Anka Shihabi. She told us that the hospital was
built twenty years ago and equipped to provide medical
services to 350 patients. The hospital,s medical equipment,
infrastructure, and information technology was heavily
destroyed during the war. There are four main departments --
medical, surgical, gynecological, and pediatric -- currently
operating at the hospital. The hospital currently has 140
employees, including many Serbs, and has almost 100 patients.
In the gynecology department, over 300 women, many of whom
are returning refugees, from Knin give birth per year. Other
refugees receive critical services including minor and major
surgery, from the hospital daily even though they are not
able to pay.

9. Shihabi told us that the Knin hospital continues to be one
of the most important preconditions for sustainable return
and living in the Knin area. This is because the hospital
also provides services to refugees in several other
municipalities outside Knin. The next closest hospital is
located almost an hour away in Sibenik. Shihabi indicated
that the hospital was in dire need of basic medical equipment
needed to perform various types of surgical procedures. She
provided us with a list of about 40 pieces of equipment
ranging from various types of tweezers and scissors to
different types of scalpels. She had received estimates for
the equipment, which totaled about $13,000. Providing this
equipment would allow the hospital to continue to provide
services to all of Knin,s residents. She noted that these
items were the most pressing need for the hospital and
appealed to the U.S. for help.