As a result of the decades-old Colombian conflict, more than 250,000 Colombians have entered Ecuador seeking refuge, and hundreds more continue to cross the border every month.
Since 2000, 64,471 Colombians have formally registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; however, tens of thousands more have not availed themselves of the protection assistance available to them from the United Nations or local authorities.
With the aim of supporting refugees and asylum seekers to move forward with their lives in their Ecuadorian host communities or ultimate resettlement destination, HIAS, in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) runs or manages the following programs:
- Psychosocial Assistance Program
- Center for Information and Orientation
- Humanitarian Assistance Program
- Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI) Program
In 2007, 189 adults became literate thanks to the training received in literacy workshops in Lago Agrio, Ecuador. Beyond providing fundamental skills to the refugees, the workshop becomes a therapeutic space where they interact with others, share problems, and find new solutions.
- In 2007, HIAS and the Center for Initiatives for Refugees and Foreigners in Brussels agreed that HIAS provide orientation for Ecuadorians who once migrated to Belgium and have returned to Ecuador. Staff of the Psychosocial Program assists in the reintegration of these Ecuadorians to their home country.
- Volunteers from Italy’s Federazione Organismi Cristiani di Servizio Internazionale Volontario participate in HIAS programs in a variety of ways. For example they work in the children’s corners, participate in special missions, and collaborate regarding distribution of food and hygiene kits.
Read their stories
In August 2011, HIAS Ecuador published “Memories and Testimonies,” a book of testimonies written by Colombian refugees living in Ecuador.
HIAS hopes the book will contribute to the story of Ecuador’s response to the ongoing crisis in Colombia and will aid in the empowerment of those who have suffered. Certainly, this book is an opportunity to give them back their voice.
The book was funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Populations, Refugees, and Migration and is endorsed by UNHCR, the House of Ecuadorian Culture, the Ministry of Justice, Human Rights and Religion and the Jewish Community of Ecuador.