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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ecuador: Increased infrastructure support for communities on Ecuador's northern border

IOM, Italian Cooperation and UNHCR have joined forces to provide better water and sanitation facilities for homes in Barranca Bermeja, a village on the Ecuador-Colombia border that hosts a large number of Colombians in search of international protection and asylum.

Of the 70 families living in Barranca Bermeja, approximately 50 are from Colombia. Many of the children living in the community were born in Ecuador but their parents are Colombians who were forced to flee the violence in their communities of origin.

Following an agreement between IOM and UNHCR, a potable water system was recently completed in Barranca Bermeja providing clean drinking water to the community.

With financial support from Italian Cooperation, IOM and UNHCR also managed to build 35 fully equipped bathrooms for the community.

"Beforehand, Barranca Bermeja did not have access to any basic services. Clean water and increased hygiene have improved the lives of all residents," explain Alejandro Guidi, IOM Chief of Mission in Ecuador.

"But the successful integration of Colombians is a priority for IOM and UNHCR. It's vital for the stability and development of the region," adds Guidi.

Ecuador hosts the largest number of registered Colombian refugees. According to UNHCR figures, 20,000 Colombians have obtained refugee status, and an additional 68,544 have applied for asylum. However, UNHCR estimates that there are some 130,000 Colombians in Ecuador in need of international protection.

Since 2001, IOM has been implementing social and productive infrastructure projects in the provinces along Ecuador's northern border with funds from the United states Agency for International Development (USAID). Nearly 500,000 persons have directly benefited from these projects.

For more information please contact Ana Guzman at IOM-Ecuador, Tel: + (593-2) 225-3948 Email:

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