Cities play a critical role in integrating IDPs. The tendency is to pay more attention to the national government, which is responsible for adopting the overall legal framework and for allocating financial resources. However, it is often up to local governments, both at the provincial and municipal levels, to implement the policies. Furthermore, IDPs interact more with municipal authorities than with national government officials because municipal authorities take care of most matters that directly affect citizen’s lives such as education, healthcare and social protection. Ukraine’s decentralisation policy puts greater authority and resources into the hands of local authorities. Therefore, they play an important role in providing integration-friendly conditions for IDPs.
On 3 October 2019, the UN Refugee Agency organized the Cities of Solidarity Forum in Kharkiv for more than 100 participants from 36 cities and towns of Ukraine. The Forum focused on durable housing solutions for IDPs wishing to integrate in their new places of residence. The Forum facilitated exchange of experience among IDPs and local authorities on implementation of municipal-level housing programs. Participants generated recommendations for national-level policies on durable housing solutions for IDPs based on the experiences gained at local level.
Most IDPs during the nationwide survey conducted in 2019 said that housing was one of their most pressing issues. There are currently several tools at the national level to address this issue, such as “Affordable Housing” or “Private House” in the villages, but they are not able to cover all the needs, so many local initiatives are being launched by individual cities and communities. During the Forum, participants exchanged information on such initiatives and worked out recommendations for the government and other stakeholders to further improve opportunities for IDPs to solve their housing problems.
On 10th of September 2020, Kharkiv hosted the “We are new Kharkiv citizens” regional forum, an initiative by Kharkiv IDP Coordination Council partnered by Kharkiv City Council with the support of “Stabilization Support Services” charitable foundation and with financial support from UNCHR.
The forum was aimed at overcoming obstacles in protecting rights, freedoms and legal interests of IDPs, providing for their equal participation in civil and political activities, enhancing their role in democratization and long-term peacebuilding.