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Ukraine: EU turns to regions and cities to support refugees  

​​​​​European Committee of the Regions launches Ukraine Info-Support hub for regions and cities

The European Union has turned to its regions and cities to help support the millions of Ukrainian refugees fleeing war. Following the adoption of a 10-point strategy that aims to protect refugees, the EU is putting in place practical, logistical and advocacy support. To help the humanitarian efforts, the European Committee of the Regions launched an Info-Support Hub to support regions and cities welcoming displaced people

During a meeting of the European Committee of the Region's Working Group on Ukraine on 30 March, Vitaly Klitschko, mayor of Kyiv, and Andriy Sadovyi, mayor of Lviv, also urged the European Union to increase its humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Mr Klitschko, who was made an honorary member of the CoR in early March, called for unity within the EU in support for Ukraine, saying that “unity is our key to peace in Ukraine” and called for a stop to any commercial investment in Russia.

In his speech, the President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Apostolos Tzitzikostas, governor of the Greek region of Central Macedonia, said: "Europe's regions, cities and villages have welcomed almost 4 million Ukrainian refugees so far, offering shelter, food and support. Today, we are launching an Info-Support Hub for regions and cities to help them help the Ukrainian people. I call on all EU regional and local leaders to join our solidarity project, and support our bordering regions that alone cannot help all the millions of families displaced from war. It is our duty to share the responsibility and show European solidarity in action."

The CoRs' Info-Support Hub for Regions and Cities offers information on rights and funds, support and advocacy. It includes an initiative to match the needs and offers of support by local and regional authorities.

Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, said that the EU had this week agreed on a 10-point plan to coordinate support for refugees, creating an EU-wide registration system and improved transport coordination to help people move between countries. "One of our priorities is moving vulnerable people, especially children, from war zone to safe homes. Fighting the very real risks of trafficking is central to our efforts. We need clear, reliable and transparent registration – across the EU. One million will likely be registered for temporary protection by this week alone so we need this to be useable EU wide. It is an essential tool to help and protect vulnerable people that will support regions and cities who continue to play an essential role in our shared humanitarian effort to support, help and protect people.”

Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, chair of the Working Group and Mayor of the Polish city of Gdańsk, added: "We all have to do our political job by strengthen the European coalition of support for humanitarian corridors, preventing Russia of continuing the committing of war crimes on civilian population and to withdraw all trade from the Russian Federation."

The Working Group also adopted a declaration stating that “planning and implementing the European Union's support for displaced people must be based on the bottom-up approach, by directly involving Europe's regions and cities who are working on the frontline of the humanitarian efforts and will bear the brunt of this crisis”. The Working Group, also urged – “as a matter of urgency” – the development of a “Reconstruction Plan for Ukraine”, adding that “Ukraine's perspective to become a potential candidate country must be part of that Plan”.

The President of the CoR and leaders of the six political groups in the CoR will next week join European Commissioner Elisa Ferreira, responsible for the EU’s regional policy, to better understand the practical challenges faced by border regions. The EU has taken emergency measures to facilitate the reception and integration of refugees, and has increased the flexibility of rules for EU funds to ensure that local reason authorities can use long-term funding also to meet the immediate challenges of providing services for refugees.

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