The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, jointly with the Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC) organised a workshop on “Ensuring better inclusion and integration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) at local level in Ukraine” on 28 February 2019 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Participants highlighted the role of local authorities in guaranteeing the political, economic and social rights of IDPs, which contribute to the development of host communities. Ukrainian mayors and local elected representatives also expressed their readiness to support and advocate, through the AUC, the necessary legislative and policy changes for an effective protection of the rights of IDPs and their integration as fully-fledged citizens in Ukraine.
Ukrainian local authorities acknowledged the importance of integration and the creation of a positive image of IDPs in host communities. “IDPs are a valuable asset for our community and we must foster peace and mutual understanding by bridging the gap between IDPs and host communities,” stressed Mykhailo NETYAZHUK, Mayor of Fastiv.
Participants identified housing and employment as critically prevalent challenges, and shared their successful initiatives addressing specific needs of IDPs at local level, such as enhancing their engagement in decision-making and budget planning, facilitating their access to social and administrative services through traditional and digital methods, as well as providing psychological support to recover from trauma of war and return to a normal lifestyle. “Having IDPs as new residents of our community means new initiatives, increased capacity and development for the city”, emphasised Svitlana KHVATOVA, councillor at the Dnipropetrovsk Region Council.
The event brought together about 30 Ukrainian mayors and local and regional councillors, representatives of the Government of Ukraine and other national stakeholders to discuss approaches for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) political participation and seek solutions to resolve social-economic challenges at local level.
The workshop was organised within the Council of Europe projects “Strengthening democracy and building trust at local level in Ukraine” and “Internal displacement in Ukraine: Building solutions”, as part of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2018 – 2021. The workshop followed the conference on voting rights of IDPs at local level in Ukraine.