Each year, thousands of Colombians, especially those living in rural areas, are forced to flee the violence perpetuated by guerrilla groups, paramilitaries, and the Colombian army. Ecuador already has the largest refugee population in Latin America and hundreds of additional persecuted Colombians continue to cross the border every month.
For more than a decade, HIAS has been working on the ground in Ecuador to help Colombian refugees overcome the trauma of violence and displacement, and to provide opportunities for them to become self-sufficient and integrate into their new communities. We work in cities as well as the border areas through nine local offices. We also distribute food kits in partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme.
Because some native Ecuadorean families share the same day-to-day challenges and vulnerabilities as the refugee families, we facilitate community development that promotes integration of refugee and host populations.
HIAS has urged the U.S. State Department to increase resettlement opportunities for Colombian refugees in Ecuador and fund efforts aimed at integrating Colombian refugees into society. We have also called on the U.S. government to fund legal assistance and representation for refugees in Ecuador, where such protections are increasingly critical.