Marija Juzbašić, Coordinator for Psychosocial in Emergencies, talks about the MHPSS interventions in remote areas of Croatia affected by recent earthquakes during COVID-19.
On December 29, 2020, a magnitude-6.4 earthquake struck near Petrinja, Croatia, which is about 30 miles southeast of Zagreb. Marija Juzbašić leads the Croatian Red Cross MHPSS response teams that support the communities impacted by the earthquake and its ongoing aftershocks.
In this interview, Marija describes challenges that she and her team have had to adapt to in responding to both COVID-19 and the recent earthquake. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, they are providing individual rather than group psychosocial support. They also established mobile PSS teams in order to support villages in mountainous, remote areas.
“One of our main lessons from this situation is to quickly adapt our psychosocial support interventions. We couldn’t have any group activities which made it very difficult, especially when we talk about the Zagreb earthquake.”
According to Marija, the area that was affected by the recent earthquake was also impacted by war in the nineties. The earthquake triggered and reminded veterans of what happened in the war. Marijas team is coordinating with the Centre of Psychotrauma in Croatia and other local NGOs to best provide support to affected individuals. This cooperation between the Red Cross and civil society organizations helps reach a larger number of people, while increasing the awareness and importance of MHPSS activities.