Judicial Reform and the Empowerment of Victims
Zagreb, 28-29 Nov. 2012
New recreation area is step forward in Vukovar reconstruction
Outdoor fitness park brightens section of Danube River promenade near city beach
Today's inauguration of the park was attended by Zeljko Sabo, Mayor of the City of Vukovar, Louisa Vinton, UN Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Croatia, Manuel Salazar, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to Croatia, and Zeljko Šimundic, head of the police station in Vukovar.
Mayor of Vukovar Zeljko Sabo said at the ceremony that Vukovar citizens are very pleased with the new recreational park and have already raised the issue of installing additional ones in other parts of Vukovar: "I am particularly grateful for the fruitful cooperation with the UNDP and for all investments in Vukovar, the city that suffered the heaviest war ravages in Croatia. There is a plenty of room for improvements here so we expect even better cooperation for the benefit of the whole community."
Speaking for Spain, which funds the MDG-F, Ambassador Manuel Salazar expressed his delight with the project site. "There is no more adequate place to talk about sustainability than by this river that articulates not only the life of the city but the life of the entire region. It is now the task of all inhabitants of Vukovar to enjoy these premises and to take good care of them." He also underlined the importance of investing in facilities which contribute to public safety and increase community satisfaction.
The inspiration to transform what had been a dark, menacing site into a recreational park came from a community policing officer in Vukovar. The idea was further developed by the city's Crime Prevention Council, which brings together police, local government, and citizens. "Community policing and Crime Prevention Councils are Croatian innovations that ensure that decisions on public safety reflect the interest of the entire community," noted Louisa Vinton, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Croatia. "The park has been in use for only a few weeks, and yet the police and Crime Prevention Council have already noted a reduction in the number of violations against public peace and order in the centre of town. We are delighted to have been part of this, and look forward to further work in Vukovar, building on all the many partnerships we enjoy here."
The project in Vukovar represents a bright example of successful partnership between local government, international organizations and the local private sector. The Makart company completed all the necessary construction works as an in-kind contribution to the project. The purchase of the fitness equipment was financed through the MDG-F, and the city of Vukovar designed the project. The recreational park contributes to Vukovar's renewal in a number of ways. It provides durable, weatherproof exercise equipment that can be used by all age groups in all seasons; it transforms a dark and threatening area into a brightly-lit safe public space for recreation and relaxation; and it improves the appearance of the Danube riverbank in a central area where tourist ships are docked.
In Croatia, the MDG-F program is directly tied to the achievement of three national Millennium Development Goals: eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education and promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women. Within Croatian efforts towards EU membership, this programme supports a number of projects aimed at addressing social exclusion and economic poverty in less developed areas of Croatia. Projects under the MDG-F programme are carried out by UNHCR, UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNDP.