October 19, Vinnytsia, Ukraine – The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, together with the authorities of Vinnytsia, the Vinnytsia Regional State Administration, and NGO “Association of IDPs “Spilna sprava,” hosted the Cities of Solidarity Forum.
Participants had a lively discussion and shared unique practices for achieving durable housing solutions for IDPs who want to integrate into local communities. In particular, it was about developing recommendations for central and local authorities in social housing and support for cooperative construction.
“We have to understand that a new life for internally displaced persons begins not when a family moves from the conflict-affected areas, but when they integrate into the new community. Life begins when you have a place to call home. When I explain the needs of IDPs to Ukraine’s leading donors, I tell them that the issue of IDP integration begins and ends with one crucial issue – housing,” said Inna Draganchuk, Deputy Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine.
«We know that displacement is a life-changing experience. This is why the “Cities of Solidarity” initiative is so important. In the early stages of displacement, people need assistance from their host communities and governments. The idea of Cities of Solidarity was born in Colombia, and Ukraine was among the countries that expanded the initiative globally. This Forum will be the first in the series of such events on the local level. It represents an important symbol of solidarity between authorities and communities», said – Meghan Froehner, UNHCR External Relation Officer.
Addressing the event participants, Deputy Head of the Regional State Administration Serhiy Zditovetskyi noted that a memorandum with relevant commitments had been signed between the regional state administration and the NGO “Association of IDPs “Spilna sprava.” “The experience of such cooperation is the first and currently the only one in Ukraine. The Regional State Administration supports the NGO “Association of IDPs “Spilna sprava” in obtaining technical conditions and permits for construction works and will take measures within the competence to connect utilities at home,” said Serhiy Zditovetsky.
Halyna Yakubovych, Deputy Mayor of Vinnytsia, noted, that the city has close cooperation with public organizations of IDPs: “Vinnytsia was once again recognized as the most comfortable city to live in. We are convinced that territorial communities should be strong and responsible, not depending on the authorities to initiate something, but instead taking an active position themselves in order for the city to thrive. IDP NGOs offer quite constructive work and deliver good results”.
During the Forum, two successful projects for constructing a housing cooperative in Vinnytsia and a service cooperative in Mali Dublyany in Lviv region were presented. Participants learned about the unique experience of cooperation between civil society, internally displaced persons, and local authorities in implementing these projects and discussed the potential for their use in other areas.
In Ukraine, the City of Solidarity project was launched in 2016-2019 at the national level to develop durable housing solutions for IDPs. Since 2021, the City of Solidarity Forums in Ukraine has moved to the local level to share experiences of best practices in finding a variety of housing solutions for IDPs in Ukraine.
As a result of the Forum, participants developed recommendations for local councils on durable housing solutions for IDPs, based on experience gained at the local level. The recommendations will be passed on to all cities and settlements that took part in the Forum, as well as to the relevant central authorities. IDP communities will have the opportunity to use these recommendations to advocate for housing decisions and monitor the implementation of such decisions.