Ecuador recognized 62,644 people in this condition. According to the UNHCR representative, 92% have health services and 85% of children are educated in state entities.
Lidia survived two years ago with three shots fired by guerrillas in her native country Colombia. The attack, which put her on the verge of death, disfigured her face and led her to think about committing suicide, but the love for her daughters made her reconsider.
She tells that when she was 13 she was recruited by the guerrillas when she left school. Five years later she managed to escape, but the persecution continued for more than two decades.
That led her to leave the Valle del Cauca and migrate to Ecuador. When remembering the suffered things, the woman, who is single mother of three girls, cries.
“I’m afraid they’ll come looking for me to kill me with my daughters. I want to have a new life “, which is why she protects her identity.
So does Daysi, who was threatened by death threats for refusing to allow two of her children to join the ranks of the subversives to “fly” from Cali. She had to go through shelters and the fear of being deported made her endure the mistreatment of her ex-survivor.
Both receive psychological help and training from the Hias Foundation (Hebrew Organization for Assistance to Immigrants and Refugees).
A couple of years ago, Daysi started the refugee application. In Ecuador there are 62,644 refugees, which means that it is the country with the most recognized refugees in Latin America, according to María Clara Martín, representative of the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) in Quito. Lidia and Daysi fled violence in Colombia. Their families settled in Ecuador.
She says that 98% are Colombians; 45%, single-parent families led by women, and 30%, children. She also explained that since 1989 about 300,000 people requested refuge and a third got it. So far there are about 8,000 applicants.
She clarified that a refugee is not a migrant, but a person who crosses the border of their country because he/she wants to flee for several reasons, including war, persecution, threat, forced recruitment, religious or ethnic persecution, and others.
Each year the Hias Foundation attends 4,000 cases. María José Gómez, local head of the NGO in Guayaquil, says that the refugees participate in the Entrepreneurship School to generate a business plan. They also offer training in nursing, beauty and gastronomy.
On Tuesday, June 19, for the World Refugee Day, they organized the gastronomy fair Sin fronteras, at the University of Guayaquil. There were eight entrepreneurs who offered arepas, tamales, pizzas and desserts. There was also music and dance.
María Elena de Pastuza also told her story. She has been in the city for 15 years. “They wanted to kill my ex-husband and take my son away, that’s why we came and I do not want to return. Here my children could study and live quietly. ” For 8 months now, ahe has received the help of Hias.
Marino explains that in order to obtain international protection they must go through a process of recognition. The procedure is not immediate and takes several months. “First there is a humanitarian visa that is renewed every three months and grants legal status, then, when refugee status is determined, a permanent visa is issued through the refugee visa.”
Subsequently, refugees have the right to access an identity card that lasts two years. The Human Mobility Law, which has been in force since February 2017, recognizes equal rights. The identity card allows them to join Social Security, access a bank account and work legally.
The document is delivered from November 2017 and so far 2,000 people already have it. In Guayaquil, according to Richard Olivos, zonal coordinator 5 and 8 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, since November 2017, 366 ID orders have been delivered and are issued in the Civil Registry in the Ministry of the Coast. For María Clara Martín de la Acnur,
Ecuador is giving an example to the world. “In the country, 85% of refugee children have access to education, which is financed by the Ecuadorian State. In the world 61% have this service. While in the area of health, 92% access public health services “. (I)