QUITO/PANAMA CITY, November 6, 2018 – The Government of Ecuador yesterday signed a new protocol for the protection of uprooted children, including those arriving from Venezuela. Led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility and the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion, the ‘Protocol for the assistance of children, adolescents and their families in contexts of human mobility in Ecuador’ establishes protection mechanisms for migrant children – both those coming alone or with their families – who have arrived without official documentation. UNICEF, working alongside with the Government, has advocated for this Protocol and provided technical assistance.
“UNICEF welcomes the adoption of this ethical and political decision of the Government of Ecuador,” said Maria Cristina Perceval, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, during the signing ceremony. “We hope that this Protocol can inspire other governments in the region to guarantee the rights of migrant children, according to the best interest of the child and the principle of extraterritoriality and transnationality of human rights."
According to IOM and UNHCR, 2.3 million people have left Venezuela for other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including more than 1.6 million who have left since 2015[i]. At least 670,000 Venezuelans, 120,000 of whom are children, have entered Ecuador this year.
In Ecuador, UNICEF is implementing and expanding its response to help migrant children and families in transit, at arrival points, and in destination communities - working to ensure access to safe drinking water and sanitation, education, health and nutrition, and protection for every child in need.
UNICEF has provided tents for families in transit, and has set up three child friendly spaces at border points. Vulnerable families have also received 4,600 blankets, jerrycans, 2,500 baby kits, while 15,600 migrants have had access to UNICEF-supported water and sanitation facilities. Additionally, 230 families have benefited from cash transfers allowing them to continue their journey.
UNICEF reiterates its call on all governments to prioritize the best interests of children in the application of immigration laws and procedures, to keep families together, to find alternatives to immigration detention of children, and to guarantee the rights of all children including the right to birth registration.