Colombian refugees begin registering in Ecuador under UN-backed project

27 March 2009

Some 50,000 Colombians who have fled insecurity in their homeland and have settled in northern Ecuador will be able to register themselves under a new programme being carried out by the Government with the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Some 50,000 Colombians who have fled insecurity in their homeland and have settled in northern Ecuador will be able to register themselves under a new programme being carried out by the Government with the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The $2 million Enhanced Registration project was launched on Monday in the small community of Muisne, in the province of Esmeraldas, and will continue for at least a year and cover every province along the northern Ecuadorian border.

UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond said the programme is “unprecedented” in Latin America.

“The importance of the Enhanced Registration project is twofold: it shortens the waiting period for a government decision on asylum claims from several months to just one day; and it takes the asylum process to the field, where many refugees have been living for years and were unable to access asylum systems in urban areas because they didn’t have the resources or because they feared being detained,” he told a news conference in Geneva today.

More than 200 people received refugee visas in the first three days of the project. “As the mobile teams travel north in the Esmeraldas province, the numbers are expected to grow as the presence of Colombians is more numerous near the border,” Mr. Redmond noted.

There are currently some 22,000 registered refugees in Ecuador, but the Government and UNHCR estimate that the total number of persons in need of international protection could be close to 135,000.

 

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Ecuador opens new refugee office along border with Colombia with UN help

The Government of Ecuador today opened its first refugee office along the border with Colombia with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).