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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ecuador Tops List with More LatAm Refugees

Quito, Jun 20 (Prensa Latina) Ecuador commemorates the International Refugee Day Friday with the greatest amount of foreign refugees, mostly Colombians, in this part of the continent.

Statistics data given by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that more than 500,000 Colombian citizens are now living in Ecuador.

Eighteen thousand of these Colombian citizens obtained the condition as a refugee, and another 180,000 require protection.

Statistics reveal Ecuador suffers one or more avalanches of thousands of Colombian citizens every year.

The last one was registered at the end of 2007 after an attack of regular forces in the south of Colombia, motivating the escape of entire families and farmers and threatening to generate a humanitarian crisis in the north of Ecuador.

Martha Juarez, representative of the UNHCR in Ecuador, admitted that her organization does not count on the necessary funds to help all the refugees.

She pointed out there are shelters in the northern border, but the government has had to ask the Colombian government for help and assistance.

UNHRC counts on attention centers in Quito and Ibarra and wants to open another in the province of Sucumbios, close to Colombia, on Friday.

However, the complaints are many, since the rights of the refugees or necessary security are not guaranteed.

The Latin American Human Rights Association (ALDHU) denounced the kidnapping by possible Colombian paramilitary of three Ecuadorian citizens last month, among them a refugee.

The UNHRC also demanded an investigation and a reinforcement of security, but the situation gets no variation.

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