The unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by the Russian government has led to global impacts. According to the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Center for International Disaster Information, there are over 500,000 refugees and more than 6.7 million people who have been displaced by the conflict. The impact is both personal and systemic. From the rise of cyber threats to global supply chain issues and inflation – cities, towns, and villages across the globe have felt the aftershock. The National League of Cities recently passed a Board resolution in support of the local government officials in Ukraine who are currently mounting a defense against the military assault of the Russian government. In the resolution, the board stated NLC’s public support for US intervention to bring about an end to the conflict.
Cities have also been acting on the local level to support Ukraine. Over 35 cities, towns, and villages have passed resolutions through their city council declaring support for Ukrainian cities. Through their sister city relationships, many American cities have agreed to take refugees, encouraged citizens to donate, and even sent volunteers to assist with humanitarian efforts. From hosting prayer vigils to sending surplus materials to Ukrainian cities – America’s cities, towns, and villages are taking an active role in supporting Ukraine’s effort to preserve its democracy.
Cities without a connection to a specific Ukrainian sister city can still help bring an end to this conflict and the chain reaction of negative consequences it causes. The USAID has released a guide with specific steps that may be relevant for cities, towns and villages looking to assist:
1. Advocate for an End to the Crisis, and for Support of Ukrainian Cities
The National League of Cities believes strongly in the power of local elected officials to influence and lead their communities and the Country. As you would on any issue, you may choose to make your voices heard regarding the importance of standing up for local democracies across the world. This may mean passing a local resolution, hosting an event, or speaking to your Congressional or state leadership about the issue.
2. Reach Out to Your Local Ukrainian Community
Some American cities have a sizeable and active Ukrainian community. As local leaders, outreach to this group of people during such a difficult time could be a good step toward building a stronger civic network. There may also be direct opportunities to support Ukrainian organizations in your community who are assisting with direct humanitarian support.
3. Encourage Contributions to the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund at the United Nations
The United Nations and global and local humanitarian partners are committed to delivering direct assistance to the people of Ukraine, and you can support that work directly. While cash donations are strongly preferred, the United Nations can coordinate the donations of in-kind goods and services.
President Biden announced that the United States will welcome up to 100,000 individuals fleeing the conflict. As the United States moves forward with implementing this plan, make sure to stay connected with your local office of refugee resettlement and continue to engage with NLC to let us know how we can best support your efforts locally.
For more information, cities should contact Karen Smith, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) private sector engagement advisor.