Ongoing war in Europe: Cities stand with Ukraine

23 February 2024

As Russia’s devastating war in Ukraine enters its third year, cities across Europe are coming together to express their continued solidarity and support for the Ukrainian people.

Since the war began, thousands of Ukrainians have lost their lives, families have been torn apart, and communities have been displaced, forced to flee their homes in search of safety and shelter.

In response, cities across Europe have welcomed and integrated millions of Ukrainian refugees, as well as providing funding, aid and equipment to their sister cities in Ukraine.

Over the next few days, cities are commemorating the two-year anniversary with a series of symbolic public ceremonies and actions that reaffirm their commitment to humanitarian values and make it clear to the people of Ukraine that their support will continue for as long as it is needed.

As well as marking the two-year anniversary, these events pay respect to the many people whose lives were lost in Kyiv’s Maiden Revolution in 2014, and the communities that have been torn apart by Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

From public art, exhibitions and youth performances, to vigils and memorial services, the gatherings serve as poignant reminders of the human cost of conflict and offer a space for reflection and remembrance for those whose lives have been forever altered by violence and displacement.

It is estimated that nearly eight million Ukrainians are living as refugees across Europe, some of whom are represented in the Eurocities video above.

From refugees living in Liege, Milan and Lisbon, to those settling in Reykjavik, Chemnitz, Nantes and Madrid, the message in the video is clear: European cities stand with Ukraine.

How cities are showing their solidarity

In Leipzig, at 13:00 on Saturday a solidarity tram adorned with designs symbolising Ukraine will circle the city, with residents encouraged to join the journey. Drawings by Ukrainian children on ‘arriving and living’ will be exhibited at the city hall, and children will place origami houses on a map of Ukraine, demonstrating the distance from Leipzig to their homes.

The impact of the war on Ukraine’s young people will also be the focus of several other events across Europe. In Strasbourg, the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine will perform a concert on ‘Stolen Childhoods,’ while the city of Milan is holding a children’s concert for peace, and Lisbon is organising a powerful street exhibition entitled ‘Children of Ukraine, children of the world’.

Candles will illuminate the ‘Light for Ukraine’ event being held at Helsinki’s Senate Square on Saturday, where the sea of light on the steps of Helsinki Cathedral will send a strong message to Ukraine that the people of Finland have not forgotten them.

Meanwhile, yellow and blue lights – the colour of the Ukrainian flag – will light up public buildings across the UK, including in London and Cardiff, along with the Ukrainian national salute ‘Slava Ukraini,’ meaning ‘Glory to Ukraine’.

The Ukrainian flag will also be projected on Lisbon’s famous equestrian statue of ‘Dom Jose I’, Turku’s library bridge will be illuminated with Ukrainian colours, and the upper floor of Essen’s town hall will be covered in the colours blue and yellow.

Braga’s city hall will also be illuminated with the lights and colours of the Ukrainian flag, and the city’s Ukrainian community gathered early this week for a special memorial service. In Estonia, the city of Tallinn is marking both its country’s independence day and the anniversary of the war by decorating the city’s main square with both Estonian and Ukrainian flags.

The city of Ghent is holding a symbolic ceremony to plant Crimean lime trees, and in Hanover the city’s Ukrainian association is organising a human chain to call for freedom.

The German city of Chemnitz will unveil the Mayors for Peace flag and open the exhibition  ‘Children paint peace,’ including contributions from Ukraine. Bratislava will also be raising the Ukrainian flag at the city’s Primate’s Palace.

Across the continent, public gatherings of solidarity are being held in cities such as Strasbourg, Bilbao, Bonn and Dusseldorf; while the city of Vilnius will hold the Liberty Shines concert, including a donation campaign to raise funds for soldier protection packs.

To the south, Lublin will unveil a plaque commemorating the ‘City Rescuer’ award it was given by President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.

And the Belgian city of Liege is supporting a public exhibition of pictures that is taking place in Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv. The exhibition features powerful images taken by Liege artist, Jim Sumkay, who photographed Kyiv’s Maidan Revolution ten years ago.

Crowdfunding for Dnipropetrovsk

Right now, one of the worst hit areas of Ukraine is the Dnipropetrovsk region, which has suffered immense losses due to the impact of the Russian aggression.

As part of its continued support for Ukraine, Eurocities has launched a crowdfunding initiative to address the urgent needs of cities throughout the region, where 56 medical facilities have either been partially or completely destroyed due to shelling.

The Dnipropetrovsk region hosts nearly 400,000 displaced people, most of whom live in cities and their surrounding areas. Close to the frontline, the region and its cities are dedicated to delivering essential health services to the wounded, injured and chronically ill.

Eurocities is aiming to raise funds for three medical facilities in the region and invites all of its member cities and their stakeholders to contribute to the initiative. If you represent a city administration which is able to make a donation, please get in touch with is at so we can connect you to our Ukrainian partners.

Ongoing solidarity, support and action from cities

Beyond today’s event and actions, cities continue to take concrete actions to support the people of Ukraine and integrate Ukrainian migrants.

The German city of Hanover has launched the InteGREAT app, which is providing important guidance and information to help Ukrainian refugees settle into local communities. The city’s training programme for intercultural teaching assistants is also helping Ukrainian children integrate in local schools.

Helsinki’s International House continues to welcome and integrate Ukrainian refugees, offering services such as counselling and jobs support, while the Lithuanian city of Vilnius has opened the ‘Centre for Ukrainian community’, the first venue of its kind in Europe, where the Ukrainian community can hold cultural activities and receive support.

The city of Bonn has twinned with the Ukrainian port city of Kherson, which suffered terrible flooding following the Russian destruction of the city’s dam. Supported by the aid organisation ‘Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe’, the city’s donation project is offering food, hygiene kits and drinking water to thousands of people, along trucks, an ambulance and medical equipment for Kherson’s children’s hospital.

A medication delivery to Kherson Children’s Hospital, organised by 'Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe' © Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe/Oro Whitley
Vehicles and a fire truck donated by Bonn, ready to be transported to Kherson © Sascha Engst/Bundesstadt Bonn
Hanover's intercultural teaching assistants, who are helping Ukrainian children integrate in the city's schools
Bilbao's Local Immigration Council, including representatives from the city's Ukrainian community © Bilbao City Council
Two buses packed with supplies and youth football equipment were sent from by Turku to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv
A recruitment event for Ukrainian job seekers in Helsinki © Mikko Honkala
Family activities in Riga's Support Centre for the Ukrainian community

In Riga, the City Council has established a Support Centre for Ukrainian Residents in the heart of the city. This unique one-stop agency offers a broad panel of services to refugees, from administrative to integrational, and various areas of support from NGOs.

As part of their twinning initiative with Kyiv, Leipzig sent five fire engines to Ukraine’s capital city in January of this year, thanks to the support of the German Federal Ministry and the Polish company MotoTruck.

This Christmas, the city of Turku sent two buses to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, packed with aid supplies and winter football equipment, while the Finnish city of Espoo has set up an education programme with local provider, Omnia, which is helping Ukrainians to learn Finnish and to find their way into Finnish working life.

In Bilbao, one of the biggest milestones has been the involvement of the Ukrainian community in the Local Immigration Council of Bilbao City Council, a municipal council that supports the integration and participation of migrant populations. The council fosters solidarity and respect, while giving Ukrainians the opportunity to have their say on the formulation of public policies.

Meanwhile in Liege, the city’s Ukraine unit continues to be very active, moving from crisis management to a more comprehensive integration project for refugees. Social workers and educators offer personalised support, helping people to access French language courses and assisting their social and professional integration.

The city of Ghent has plans to donate 75 laptops to Ukrainian refugees, and the intercultural centre in Dusseldorf offer migrants guidance and social support.

In Lublin, two integration centres are operating, while a new accommodation space has recently been opened, and the Portuguese city of  Guimarães continues to work to welcome Ukrainian citizens, supporting efforts to provide accommodation and ensure integration.

In the German city of Essen, community centres run a range of group activities and advice services for Ukrainian refugees, while the city offers several sports programmes for Ukrainians of all ages, as well as groups for young mothers.

And in April, the Polish city of Rzeszow will launch its FENIKS International Integration Centre, a space for mutual integration and understanding.


If you would like to contribute to Eurocities crowding funding campaign to support Ukraine’s  Dnipropetrovsk region, please get in touch with us at so we can connect you to the Ukrainian partners. 

If you are interested in helping with other areas of recovery work in Dnipropetrovsk, such as energy efficiency or residential construction for IDPs, please refer to this site


Andrew Kennedy Eurocities Writer