Cablegate: Croatia Disaster Declaration
UNCLAS ZAGREB 00747
O 071437Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8007
RUEHUP/AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST 1090
UNCLAS ZAGREB 000747
FOR AID/OFDA: ROBERT ANDREW
AID/E&E: VALERIE CHIEN
FOR EUR/SCE: RBALIAN
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL PGOV AFIN AMGT HR
SUBJECT: CROATIA DISASTER DECLARATION
1. I am declaring a disaster in Croatia for the loss of property,
loss of livelihoods, and actual and potential loss of life caused by
heat wave-related wildfires currently raging throughout southern
Croatia. I am requesting USD 50,000 for immediate disaster relief
from USAID/OFDA. The Government of Croatia (GOC) is doing its best
to bring the wildfires under control and protect property and lives,
but the extent of the wildfires is unprecedented and GOC resources
are not sufficient to adequately respond to this disaster. Croatia
is a staunch ally and it is in our interest to provide assistance.
The GOC will accept USG assistance. USG disaster relief resources
will be used by USAID procurement officials for the immediate local
purchase of emergency equipment for the municipalities of Konavle
and Zupa Dubrovacka.
2. Since July 20, 2007, Croatia has faced severe forest fires,
which have been aggravated by extremely high temperatures, winds and
dry conditions. Whereas forest fires are a normal occurrence in
south-eastern Europe in the summertime, hotter and drier conditions
this year have overstretched the regions firefighting capabilities.
In July, there were more than 800 separate blazes in Croatia. The
situation is particularly bad in the southern province of Dalmatia.
3. An emergency situation has been declared in the region of
Dubrovnik, a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. The emergency
situation continues as more than 500 fire fighters, volunteers and
soldiers have been mobilized. Residents of hillside villages
surrounding Dubrovnik have fled their homes and fires have been
reported to have destroyed houses. The line of fire above the city
of Dubrovnik was 12 miles long at one point. Residents are assisting
fire fighters by carrying hoses and buckets of water to douse the
flames using handkerchiefs and shirts to protect their faces from
the thick, overpowering smoke. Unexploded landmines left over from
the war in Croatia in the early 1990s are hampering the efforts of
4. A large number of civilians suffer from smoke inhalation and
there are a number of people seeking emergency assistance. Dubrovnik
Mayor Dubravka Suica has imposed a state of emergency and has
emergency services on alert to evacuate residents from the hillside
districts. Women, children and elderly people have been urged to go
to shelters that have been set up. So far, there have been no
casualties but several civilians and fire fighters have sustained
light injuries, scratches and sprains.
5. The fires have damaged woodlands, natural parks, farmlands and
currently they are still active on the territory of the following
districts: Dubrovnik, Pula, Omis and Virovitica.
6. The fires have broken out primarily in regions that are
difficult to access, mountainous and which also contain landmines,
hindering the ability to fight the fires.
7. The Prime Minister of Croatia has requested that assistance be
targeted to the municipalities with the most urgent needs - Konavle
and Zupa Dubrovacka - in the region of Dubrovnik. These
municipalities have an insufficient protective gear and fire
fighting equipment causing a critical situation that is life
threatening for the fire fighters and citizens in the region of
8. The municipalities are requesting specific protective gear and
fire fighting equipment that can be purchased locally.
9. USAID Croatia is in the position to efficiently and quickly
provide the requested assistance in the current situation.