European cities and regions united in solidarity with Ukraine

30 March 2022
European cities and regions united in solidarity with Ukraine

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.

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.

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.

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. 

The Brittany Region, led by our member Loïg Chesnais-Girard, voted for €100,000 in humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Wallonia raised the flag of Ukraine, as shared by the Minister-President Elio Di Rupo.

While in Finland, our member and local councillor Mikkel Näkkäläjärvi, shares that the City Council of Rovaniemi decided to donate money to Ukraine.

PES Group member and Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb addressed a letter to the governor of St Petersburg, their sister-city, calling to exert his influence to stop the war. And next Friday, Mayor Aboutaleb, as president of the region, together with 15 mayors will announce that they are willing to host 2000 refugees from Ukraine.   The State Parliament of Bremen, Bremische Bürgerschaft, adopted an urgent motion "Solidarity with Ukraine - in Bremen, Germany and Europe'', under the leadership of PES Group member Antje Grotheer. The motion condemns Russia's war of aggression on Ukraine, which is contrary to international law and is bringing inconceivable suffering, destruction and death to the people of Ukraine. The Bremische Bürgerschaft expresses its unequivocal solidarity with the citizens of Ukraine and calls for compliance with international humanitarian law, in particular the protection of civilians and vulnerable groups in Ukraine. Furthermore, it emphasises the duty to provide decent and good accommodation and distribution of refugees fleeing Ukraine and calls for the further development of a genuine solidarity-based common European asylum system. Bremen stands in solidarity with Ukraine, as shown by the numerous initiatives and actions of citizens who are actively involved in helping to cope with the humanitarian catastrophe. Bremen provides active support for efforts to end the conflict through diplomatic channels.

Welcoming refugees

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.

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.

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.

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.

Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, is working closely with associations to coordinate their solidarity actions and welcome refugees in the best conditions.

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.

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.

Krzysztof Matyjaszczyk, Mayor of Częstochowa, opened an information point for refugees and is collecting gifts for refugees.

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.

Local councillor from Strasbourg, Céline Geissman, called on the city mayor to welcome refugees from Ukraine.

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.

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.