Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla joined Mayor Ivan Fedorov of the City of Melitopol, Ukraine, to announce a formalized agreement between the City of Hoboken and the City of Melitopol, to unite as ‘sister cities.’ This agreement, facilitated by the United States Agency of International Development (USAID), joins Hoboken and Melitopol in standing up for democratic values, with Russia having occupied Melitopol since the beginning of the war in February 2022. During the Sister City signing ceremony on July 10, 2023, Marc Ellingstad from USAID, noted the historic significance of this event, as the City of Hoboken is the first city in the United States to enter into a formalized partnership with a Ukranian city, and noted the hope that this will lead to additional connections and relationships between American and Ukranian cities to provide support during the war.
In the coming months, the two municipalities will collaborate on how to share assets, resources, and best practices. The City of Hoboken will soon announce applications for the Melitopol Sister City Committee of Hoboken, which will offer an opportunity for residents who wish to assist with steering support efforts for Melitopol.
Melitopol is the second largest city in the Zaporizhzhia region, and it is located in the southeastern part of Ukraine near the coast of the Azov Sea. It is a major logistics hub for the country conveniently located near highways of state and regional importance and railway connections with central and western Ukraine.
Melitopol is the cultural, logistical, and industrial center of southern Ukraine with a population of 150,000. The diverse city has been home to representatives of more than 100 nationalities for over 200 years before the Russian invasion displaced thousands of Melitopol residents from their homes.
Atrocities against the Ukrainian people have been taking place in the temporarily occupied territory for more than a year with over 1,000 Melitopol citizens having been captured by Russian forces. Today, approximately one third of the residential population remains in Melitopol and 70 percent of small and medium-sized businesses have stopped their activities.
“As Russia continues to wage war on the citizens of Ukraine, it is all the more of a reason to stand with our global neighbors,” said Mayor Bhalla. “I’m proud that Cities like Hoboken will continue to provide unwavering support to the Ukrainian people as they contend with a continued humanitarian crisis. We are grateful to the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency of International Development for providing a platform to provide this support.”
“The Sister Cities Agreement between the city of Melitopol and the city of Hoboken is an example of the unity of democratic countries, even across distances of thousands of kilometers,” said Mayor Fedorov. “We may reside on different continents, with distinct cultures and languages, but we are united by a common goal – the desire to create modern and livable cities that will serve as prototypes for the successful future of our respective nations. I am confident that our cooperation will initiate mutual development, not only within our cities but also throughout entire regions of our countries. Furthermore, it will strengthen the genuine friendship between Ukraine and the USA.”
Through this partnership, which is aided by the United States Agency of International Development (USAID), Hoboken seeks to support Melitopol through various channels which may include, but are not limited to cultural exchange, knowledge transfer, volunteerism, developmental assistance, educational partnerships, citizen diplomats, humanitarian assistance and joint infrastructure projects, green energy programs, and rebuilding strategies.
“In the embrace of partnership, two cities unite their strengths, forging a path of shared progress and development,” said Activity Chief Gabriel Abraham for USAID’s Ukraine Governance and Local Accountability program. “United by common values of freedom, democracy, and diversity, the people of USA and Ukraine cultivate a strong partnership between their cities, laying the foundation for a future of collaboration and mutual prosperity. The USAID HOVERLA Activity is honored to contribute to the establishment of a partnership between the American city of Hoboken and the Ukrainian city of Melitopol. The Sister City agreement will become a first step in promoting cultural and educational exchange, inspiring innovation, and fostering friendship among citizens of our nations.”
In 2022, the City partnered with the Hoboken Relief Fund and nonprofit Welcome Home to fundraise for the local rent for refugees' campaign which provided housing to Ukrainian refugees living in Hoboken’s adopted sister city of Bialystok Poland.
Following Hurricane Maria in 2017, the City’s Public Safety Department partnered with Villalba, Puerto Rico to provide the municipality with old police vehicles, a fire truck, and local donations.