With the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the Transparent Cities program (Transparency International Ukraine) launched the initiative “Cities in the rear” to show the experience of the rear Ukrainian regions in dealing with the challenges caused by the war.
Every Ukrainian city felt the consequences of hostilities and growing threats. Everyone faced the task of working for the victory of Ukraine and helping those in need. Currently, Ukrainian regions can be divided according to their proximity to the front line into rear, front, and regions located in close proximity to hostilities.
In the column “Cities in the rear,” we talk about Ukrainian cities that, since the beginning of the war, performed an equally important mission: they helped IDPs, attracted humanitarian and international aid, and comprehensively supported the temporarily occupied territories and our servicemen.
Despite the war and instability around them, they managed to mobilize resources and share them with those who desperately needed them. It is thanks to our strong rear cities that those on the front lines, both the military and civilians, are holding on.
In this material, we have collected for you the most striking moments of resilience and strength of the rear Ukrainian regions, which continue to face challenges and ensure the socio-economic stability of our state.
Support for internally displaced persons
According to research by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 7 million Ukrainians have become internally displaced persons. They left their homes and were forced to seek refuge in other, relatively safe regions of Ukraine.
Lviv became one of the cities that received the largest number of displaced people at the beginning of the invasion. This city has become not only a new home for more than 1 million Ukrainians but also a powerful humanitarian distribution hub. After the start of the war, the first evacuation trains from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Kramatorsk, which were in the zone of active hostilities or at risk, began to run here.
The same situation was in Ivano-Frankivsk. The city became a shelter for hundreds of thousands of displaced people, some of whom remain there to this day. The city's local authorities immediately mobilized resources and provided assistance to all who needed it. For example, free offline Ukrainian language courses have started working in the city. 120 people registered on the first day alone. Ukrainians will associate the Russian language with the occupiers for a long time, so, all those willing to have the opportunity to improve their knowledge.
In addition, in the very first days of the war, the social policy department organized work on providing assistance to persons with disabilities, people in difficult life circumstances, and residents of the Ivano-Frankivsk city territorial community. Social canteens started working in the city. Thus, everyone who needed it was able to buy lunch at a social price.
Dozens of volunteers began working actively in Mukachevo from the beginning of the war: they looked for housing among local residents, collected humanitarian aid for IDPs, etc. The city council even created a list of accredited volunteer coordinators.
In the small town of Dubno, in the Rivne region, special attention was paid to working with displaced children. Sports, entertainment, and educational events were organized for them. Internally displaced persons were able to receive free baby food, hygiene products, clothes, shoes, and food kits.
Cities pay great attention to restoring the emotional state of internally displaced persons. So, in Zhytomyr, the socio-psychological support project "Poruch" is implemented to help children affected by the war. The project includes psychological support groups, art therapy, workshops, healthy eating, and sports activities.
In Kropyvnytskyi, a social dormitory was set up for IDPs, and there are plans to build new housing for those who have lost their homes. This city has set an example of how to accumulate resources and share them with those who need them despite the war and instability around them.
A mobile team was organized in Kolomyia to provide prompt assistance and coordination to IDPs, advising them and helping to solve their problems. It included representatives of the Ivano-Frankivsk Regional State Administration, the regional center for free legal aid in the region, a psychologist, and social protection workers.
All Ukrainian cities have shown their capacity and resilience to work in difficult conditions. Each of them was looking for effective ways to help and support the affected Ukrainian regions.
A strong rear has become a steady pillar to counter the enemy and ensure stability.
Attracting humanitarian aid
Attracting, collecting, and distributing humanitarian aid became an equally important and necessary area of work for the rear regions.
For example, in Ternopil, two humanitarian headquarters have been operating under the city council since the beginning of the full-scale war, and they continue to actively volunteer to help internally displaced persons and the military.
Since the beginning of the war, the Humanitarian Center at the Ternopil City Territorial Center for Social Services has been providing food packages and hygiene products to internally displaced persons. Thousands of people have received clothing, footwear, and rehabilitation equipment.
In the Rivne region, charitable aid is continuously sorted and delivered from the temporary center of the Dubno City Council according to the needs of IDPs, servicemen, and residents of the affected regions.
The humanitarian cargo is formed by volunteer organizations and transferred from Dubno to the regions that were under occupation by Russian troops for a long time and are often on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.
The small town of Chervonohrad, located in the Lviv region, also has a positive experience in these matters. Since the first day of the war, the city has been operating a Humanitarian Headquarters for Humanitarian and Social Affairs. As of the end of summer, it has sent more than 500 tons of humanitarian aid to 79 destinations in Ukraine. The most frequent destinations are Kyiv, Popasna, Voznesensk, Irpin, and Dnipro. Foreign aid in the city came mostly from Poland, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
However, the issue of providing priority assistance to IDPs and the military is the responsibility of cities close to the war zone. One of these powerful support centers is Dnipro. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the city has become one of the strongholds that provide a reliable rear for our front. And although it can only be called conditionally safe all this time, despite systematic attacks on it, Dnipro is living and holding on.
In total, the city has hosted hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people. They are provided with everything they need: food and hygiene kits, assistance with resettlement, and city tours. One of the first centers in Ukraine called "I am Mariupol" was opened for people from Mariupol who took refuge in Dnipro.
In Kamianets-Podilskyi, a social project, a stock hub, was launched thanks to socially responsible businesses, displaced volunteers, and the authorities. Here, people who have come from the war zone can get free basic necessities such as clothes, blankets, hygiene products, and baby food and toys for kids. Most of the items on the shelves are humanitarian aid from abroad from partner cities or ordinary people.
“We initiate to help even more”
In addition to meeting priority needs, rear cities are developing projects and implementing initiatives in various social spheres. The goal is to attract even more support and assistance for our defenders and internally displaced citizens.
For example, artists from Oleksandriya took part in the “Train to Victory” project, which has been running in Ukraine since August 23. These are 7 painted cars dedicated to the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and the deeds of people who resist Russian troops as a sign of gratitude to all the brave Ukrainians who resist the occupiers.
The Kolomyia community continues to help Ukrainian defenders in various ways. The city organized a charity football tournament that raised funds for the needs of Ukraine's defenders.
Zhytomyr is ready to accept businesses that relocate to safer regions to continue their operations. The city has created a Telegram channel with offers to rent and sell premises: https://t.me/relocationZhytomyr. It also has a chatbot that allows learning about the community's potential, its economic attractiveness, and ask questions about relocation: https://t.me/RelocationinZhytomyt_bot
Universities from the occupied territories are moving to Kropyvnytskyi. The first stage was the complete relocation of Donetsk National Medical University.
In addition, many Ukrainian cities are actively rebuilding abandoned buildings and preparing them for settlement. The 60 internally displaced persons of the Kalush community will be resettled in a renovated building that used to be an educational institution in the city:
In Korosten, this year's International Potato Pancake Festival was a charity event. It raised over UAH 90,000 for the needs of the army. Many people associate the city of Korosten with potato pancakes! That's because every year since 2008, on the second Saturday of September, the city has hosted the International Potato Pancake Festival, which has already become a good city tradition.
You can read more about such initiatives in our materials under the hashtag #cities_in_rear or on our website.
Ukrainian cities have become a symbol of resilience and invincibility in the face of growing challenges and threats. The joint efforts of city residents, volunteers, and local authorities have shown significant results.
For more than 300 days, our cities have been standing together against the enemy's vastly superior forces. Together, they help and support the regions that are in the combat zone or are de-occupied and need to be restored. This consolidation has united many people and helped us to survive in the most difficult times.
Transparent Cities (Transparency International Ukraine) works to help Ukrainian cities become stronger and respond effectively to modern challenges and threats.