The forced displacement of Colombians across the border into Ecuador is frequent. Of the 70 families living in Barranca Bermeja, approximately 50 are from Colombia. Many of the children living in the community are Ecuadorian by birth but their parents are Colombian forced to flee the violence in their communities of origin.
In November 2007, a large group of displaced Colombians arrived in the area. Following their arrival, IOM, UNHCR and other organisations got together to address the most pressing needs of the local population and of the Colombians who had crossed into Ecuador in search of international protection.
The integration of the Colombians into the local community is a priority for IOM and UNHCR, and is considered key to the stability and development of the region.
Ecuador hosts the largest number of registered Colombian refugees. According to UNHCR figures, 20,000 people have refugee status and an additional 37,000 are considered asylum seekers. However, UNHCR estimates that there are some 130,000 Colombians in Ecuador in need of international protection.
Since October 2005, IOM has been carrying out a programme to address the emergency situation faced by Colombians who cross international borders to escape the violence of illegal armed groups. The programme, funded by the US Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), covers Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela.
The IOM border assistance programme focuses on building and improving shelters and water and sanitation infrastructure, provides temporary health and education assistance, including information on HIV/AIDS, hygiene kits and food packages, and data collection.
For more information, please contact Ana Guzman at IOM-Ecuador, Tel: + (593-2) 225-3948, email: firstname.lastname@example.org