As the news of Russia’s brutal aggression of Ukraine reached cities and regions across the European Union, many reacted first with disbelief by condemning Russia’s violation of international law and showing support for Ukrainian people. These first comments were quickly followed by concrete actions of solidarity, with many cities illuminating their monuments with the colours of the Ukrainian flag, regions working to welcome refugees, or other cities making public transport free for them.
The European Committee of the Regions issued a declaration in support of Ukraine too. The Committee also shared how members and partners wishing to help the Ukrainian people can do so using the information supplied by various Ukrainian cities and regional centres.
The UN estimates that 4 million Ukrainian refugees may need protection and assistance in neighbouring countries in the coming months. As decisions at the European Union level are moving at fast speed, local and regional governments are not loosing time either providing all the support they can to Ukrainian people.
On 12 March, the PES Group joined the initiative of PES Group member and Mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, for a pan-European demonstration in support of Ukraine.
This will be an ongoing reporting of what is happening on the ground in progressive cities and regions across Europe.
Putting solidarity in action
On 12 March, more than 175 cities across Europe joined the initiative led by PES Group member Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence, which included a live intervention of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
A beautiful square, united and colorful. United in our commitment for peace and in giving voice to all European cities. From here, a powerful message of hope and solidarity.#CitiesWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/9AeXlpDmG9
— Dario Nardella (@DarioNardella) March 12, 2022
— Lord Mayor of Dublin (@LordMayorDublin) March 12, 2022
The Occitanie region in France raised the flag in front of the regions buildings in Toulouse and Montpellier, as shared by the Vice-President and our Group member, Nadia Pellefigue. The region also started to collect goods to help Ukrainian people.
— Nadia Pellefigue (@NadiaPellefigue) February 26, 2022
The capital city of Ireland lit up one of its main monuments with the colours of the Ukrainian flag, as reported by Dublin Mayor and PES Group member Alison Gilliland.
Showing solidarity to the people of Ukraine, @DubCityCouncil has lit up the Samuel Beckett Bridge with the flag of Ukraine. #Dublin #Ukriane #WeStandWithUkraine #StandWithUkraine@UKRinIRL @IrlEmbUkraine @GeraskoLarysa @AlisonGilliland @events_DCC pic.twitter.com/WNvtRVcWV4
— Lord Mayor of Dublin (@LordMayorDublin) February 27, 202
Vienna is offering free public transports to Ukrainian refugees, but also medical and psychological support. Putting forward these measures, the Mayor and PES Group member, Michael Ludwig, declared that Vienna is not neutral when it comes to humanity.
— Michael Ludwig (@BgmLudwig) February 28, 2022
The Brittany Region, led by our member Loïg Chesnais-Girard, voted for €100,000 in humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
— Loïg Chesnais-Girard (@LoigCG) March 1, 2022
Wallonia raised the flag of Ukraine, as shared by the Minister-President Elio Di Rupo.
🇺🇦 La Wallonie réaffirme sa pleine solidarité avec le peuple ukrainien en hissant leur drapeau national aux côtés de ceux de l’Union européenne, la Belgique et de la Région wallonne #StandWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/cflbJzoptN
— Elio Di Rupo (@eliodirupo) February 25, 2022
While in Finland, our member and local councillor Mikkel Näkkäläjärvi, shares that the City Council of Rovaniemi decided to donate money to Ukraine.
Ukrainan ja ukrainalaisten tukeminen on meidän kaikkien asia.
Rovaniemen kaupunginvaltuusto päätti juuri yksimielisesti lahjoittaa Ukrainaan euron per asukas eli 64240 euroa sekä päivän valtuuston kokouspalkkiot eli noin 6000 euroa päälle.#roivaltuusto #WeStandWithUkraine
— Mikkel Näkkäläjärvi (@Nakkalajarvi) February 28, 2022
The network of European cities is constantly active to guarantee donations and basic necessities to the city of Kiev and other local communities in Ukraine. They're also committed to welcoming thousands of Ukrainian refugees and providing them with services and hospitality, as reported by PES Group member Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence.
La rete delle città europee è costantemente attiva per garantire donazioni e beni di prima necessità alla città di Kiev e alle altre comunità locali dell'Ucraina. Siamo impegnati, inoltre, nell’accogliere migliaia di rifugiati ucraini e nel garantire loro servizi e accoglienza. pic.twitter.com/4nqmTIZqfi
— Dario Nardella (@DarioNardella) March 17, 2022
The Balearic Islands has created a website to disseminate and bring together the various solidarity initiatives in his territory, as published by PES Group member Francina Armengol, President of the Balearic Islands.
Són moltes les iniciatives i persones que estau donant el millor per ajudar en tot el possible al poble ucraïnès.
Des d'avui, habilitam un espai web per difondre i aglutinar les diverses iniciatives solidàries a les Illes.
— Francina Armengol (@F_Armengol) March 15, 2022
Portuguese municipalities have implemented emergency responses both in terms of reception, support and integration of people from Ukraine, both in the field of collection and delivery of essential goods. The national authorities have also dedicated a website gathering all the initiatives developed on the ground with an access to the list of key needs identified by Ukrainian mayors and, sharing in their networks, the testimonies of Ukrainian mayors.
The Province of Burgenland launched the aid campaign called "Burgenland hilft" for people affected by the war. The state set up a hotline and homepage for everyone who wants to provide accommodation for refugees or donate relief supplies, as well as a website in Ukrainian to provide information for refugee Ukrainians for their stay in Austria. Furthermore, Burgenland has decided to organise buses in order to bring and accommodate 500 non-mobile displaced persons from Ukraine, who are stranded on the border with Slovakia, directly to Burgenland.
Wallonia is getting ready to welcome refugees fleeing the war, as reported by the Minister-President and PES Group member Elio Di Rupo.
St. Pölten (Austria) is hosting a network of people who are willing to help Ukrainian refugees. The network consists mostly of Ukrainian inhabitants, who are willing to share space, resources and will act as interpreters. They are organising quarters in private surroundings, nursery and schools for the Ukrainian children.
The Occitanie region in France is organising a humanitarian convoy which will leave on Saturday 12 March for the Polish border with Ukraine, as shared by the Vice-President and our Group member, Nadia Pellefigue.
Notre Région est solidaire des réfugiés du monde.
— Nadia Pellefigue (@NadiaPellefigue) March 10, 2022
In Lisbon, the Socialist Party calls for greater ambition in Lisbon's Emergency Programme for Ukraine. The proposed initiative "Todos Aqui" '(all here) seeks to provide and fast track access to health, education, decent work, child care, transport and culture to Ukrainian refugees.
Cidadãos e cidadãs Ucranianas - VSI TUT! https://t.co/RsIjGVd8FF
— Pedro Anastácio (@ppanastacio) March 9, 2022
Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, is working closely with associations to coordinate their solidarity actions and welcome refugees in the best conditions.
Paris se mobilise pour l'Ukraine.
Depuis la semaine dernière, nous travaillons étroitement avec les associations pour coordonner nos actions de solidarité et accueillir dans les meilleures conditions les réfugiés.#StandWithUkraine️ 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/VlRN9OUvIU
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) March 8, 2022
The Municipality of Idanha-a-Nova, led by Armindo Jacinto, launched a solidarity campaign for Ukraine, calling for citizens to contribute with goods to support Ukrainian refugees.
O Município de Idanha-a-Nova está a organizar a campanha solidária "Unidos pela Ucrânia", entre os dias 4 e 9 de Março. Saiba mais em https://t.co/2n3VlSHG6t#standwithukraine pic.twitter.com/2uF80z3mHV
— Município de Idanha-a-Nova (@IdanhaNova) March 4, 2022
Beata Moskal-Słaniewska, Mayor of Świdnica, is working already hard to prepare her city in Poland to welcome refugees from Ukraine, offering blankets and food, organiser a fundraiser. She shared a photo of a baby girl, just 3-months old, arrived in her city, saying they do everything possible to prepare, but kindness and empathy come first.
To jest Darenka, nasz najmłodszy dziś gość w Centrum Pomocy. Ma 3 miesiace. Razem z mamą i bratem dojechali do na wczoraj. Kolejne rodziny w drodze. Szykujemy wszystko, co możliwe. Ale życzliwość i empatia po pierwsze.#solidarityWithUkraine
— Beata Moskal-Słaniewska (@beata__ms) February 27, 2022
🇺🇦 W Urzędzie Miasta Częstochowy przy ul. Waszyngtona 5 (I piętro) ruszył punkt informacyjny dla obywateli i obywatelek Ukrainy. Będzie czynny w godzinach pracy urzędu. Można również dzwonić pod numer telefonu 34 37 07 391. pic.twitter.com/x3VEKau7Hz
— Matyjaszczyk Krzysztof (@MatyjaszczykK) February 28, 2022
Local councillor of Milan, Arianna Censi, member of our Group, announced that the city is already starting to host refugees. Milan has also created a website where people can offer to welcome refugees in their homes.
🇺🇦 Il @ComuneMI è impegnato in queste ore a organizzare le risposte più adeguate per fronteggiare l’emergenza umanitaria #ucraina.#Milano vuole fare la sua parte, fondamentale segnalare eventuali arrivi, a disposizione un indirizzo mail del consolato. 👇🏻 pic.twitter.com/9DoKDvRe6k
— Arianna Censi (@AriannaCensi) March 1, 2022
Local councillor from Strasbourg, Céline Geissman, called on the city mayor to welcome refugees from Ukraine.
Merci @MartineAubry de porter haut les couleurs de la social-démocratie 🙏🌹🤝 On fait la même chose à @strasbourg ? @JeanneBarsegh ? #WeStandWithUkraine 🇺🇦🇪🇺 #Strasbourg #CapitaleDesDroitsHumains pic.twitter.com/yeKYOInWSJ
— Céline Geissmann (@CelineGeissmann) February 26, 2022
Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence, already shared with the Ukrainian ambassador the city's engagement to welcome refugees arriving in Italy and also presented initiatives to mobilise for peace.
All’ambasciatore ucraino Yaroslav Melnyk ho assicurato il nostro impegno nell’accogliere i profughi in arrivo. Con lui ho parlato anche delle iniziative per coinvolgere e sensibilizzare il mondo della cultura italiana e internazionale nella mobilitazione per la pace. #StopWar
— Dario Nardella (@DarioNardella) February 28, 2022
André Viola, Local councillor of the Aude department, made it clear that they are ready to welcome refugee. Many citizens of his department already shared their availability to host people fleeing from the war in Ukraine.
Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, as president of the region, together with 15 mayors is announcing that they are willing to host 2,000 refugees from Ukraine.
Raising cities and regions’ voices for peace
In addition to humanitarian aid, Ukraine also needs broad political support. For this reason, mayors and EU councillors from Lower Austria call for peace to their Russian counterparts every day. "Diplomacy takes place not only in the Kremlin and the White House, but also in the cities and municipalities", says SPÖ European spokesman Hannes Wening. Read more
Progressive regions and cities strongly condemn the arbitrary detention and abduction of the Mayors of Melitopol and Dniproroudne, Ivan Fedorov and Yevhen Matveyev, by Russian army. We demand their immediate release. This is a barbaric attack on democratic institutions.
The kidnapping by the Russian army of Mayors of Melitopol and Dniproroudne, Ivan Fedorov and Yevhen Matveyev, is a barbaric attack on democratic institutions.
— PES Group Committee of the Regions (@PES_CoR) March 13, 2022
— Eugenio Giani (@EugenioGiani) February 25, 2022
Wir fühlen mit den Menschen in der #Ukraine, verurteilen die russische Aggression und haben unserer Partnerregion #Czernowitz Hilfe angeboten. https://t.co/R65sHcrcFS https://t.co/dTybQQuTA2 pic.twitter.com/L92V6vWX3W
— Peter Kaiser (@PeterKaiserSP) February 25, 2022
Fiaccolata per la #Pace promossa dal sindaco @gualtierieurope. Da #Roma meravigliosa risposta, con una grande partecipazione di ragazze e ragazzi, contro l’aggressione della Russia in #Ucraina e per chiedere la pace. #UkraineInvasion pic.twitter.com/AUGMH8Pacv
— Nicola Zingaretti (@nzingaretti) February 25, 2022
Ministerin Honé: Russisches Vorgehen ist "Angriff auf die Demokratie in Europa" - Europaministerkonferenz (EMK) verurteilt einhellig den Überfall der Russischen Föderation auf #Ukraine auf Schärfste und spricht sich für umfassende humanitäre Hilfe aus: https://t.co/XA9zwFaiz1
— MB (@MBNiedersachsen) February 25, 2022
Our city administration is ready to make every effort to support the free democratic Ukrainian government. San Donà is a city of #peace, this is its position and it always will be. We express all our solidarity and closeness to the Ukrainian people 🇺🇦 #UkraineRussiaWar pic.twitter.com/XIiprSK9uf
— Daniele Terzariol (@danieleterz) February 27, 2022
- Yo digo NO a la guerra y bien alto. Y eso significa, en este caso, NO A LA INVASIÓN DE UCRANIA.
- Ucrania es un estado soberano. Nos pueden gustar más o menos sus dirigentes, pero el Presidente fue elegido democráticamente.
(Abro hilo -1)
— 🌹 Adrián Barbón 💙💛 (@AdrianBarbon) February 27, 2022