UN refugee agency helps new wave of Colombians fleeing to Ecuador

30 August 2007

The United Nations refugee agency is working with its partners to help more than 1,500 Colombians who have fled an outbreak of violence in their home areas and sought safety in Ecuador over the past week – the latest influx in a years-long exodus that has sent some 250,000 Colombians fleeing to their southern neighbour.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has mobilized resources on both sides of the border to address the crisis, with a team visiting the Colombian coastal town of Tumaco over the weekend to try and learn more about the current flight.

They found a combination of factors pushing people to leave, including fear of violence erupting between the armed forces and irregular armed groups in a country which has seen some 3 million people uprooted by more than 40 years of fighting between the Government, leftist rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and criminal gangs.

People also indicated they feared that a state campaign to eradicate illegal coca crops could affect them adversely.


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