Two Ukrainian girls started school in the fifth-grade of an elementary school near Osijek on Monday, state agency Hina reported, and added that a kindergarten group for about 20 refugee children from Ukraine would launch this week.
Deputy mayor of Osijek, Dragan Vulin, told reporters that a third school-age girl from Ukraine would be enrolled in an elementary school in Osijek. He confirmed that for kindergarten-aged children “talks were held with their parents on Sunday” and the city would prepare a location where the children could get expert support, “work with psychologists. and any receive other care they may require.”
In Croatia, most children start their eight-year elementary schooling aged 6-7, so fifth grade is for children about 11-12 years old.
“After a certain period, these children too will be integrated into regular kindergartens,” said Vulin. The city of Osijek would also provide Ukrainian children with all the municipal services, including free public transport, free school lunch, access to public swimming pools and sports facilities. The local children’s theater will also prepare a production with Ukrainian-language subtitles.
“The most important thing now is to minimize the effects of the horrible war that their families have been exposed to. In light of the (1991-95) Homeland War, our citizens have absolute empathy for Ukrainian refugees. They are donating places to stay, food, clothing, hygienic products, and toys for children, every day,” added Vulin.
Osijek is the largest city in eastern Croatia with close to 100,000 people. In recent history, it suffered heavy shelling during the 1991-95 independence war by the Yugoslav army, forcing many of its residents into wartime exile in other parts of Croatia.
Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, said on Monday that close to 2,600 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Croatia to date. In the eastern city of Osijek, a sports hall has been converted into a refugee center, and another one is currently in the process of being converted to accept incoming people.
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