Ecuador declares state of emergency following influx of Venezuelan migrants
Every day 5000 Venezuelans are fleeing into their neighbouring countries. They are fleeing violence, insecurity, poverty and a lack of food and medicine. The mass migration of Venezuelans has placed a large amount of strain on neighbouring countries.
Since the start of 2017, 547,000 Venezuelans have entered Ecuador through the Colombian border, averaging between 2,700 and 3,000 men, women and children each day. This influx is now accelerating and in the first week of August 30,000 entered the country, over 4,000 each day.
The Government of Ecuador has now declared a state of emergency in human mobility in response to the large influx of Venezuelans arriving into the country. This has been welcomed by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, as declaring a state of emergency allows Ecuador to assign additional resources and increase its refugee response.
The UNHCR report that a large number of Venezuelans run out of resources during their journey and are then left destitute and forced to live on the streets. Up to 20% of the arrivals are thought to be in need of specific protection needs, such as women and children, caregivers or disabled people.
In Ecuador, women and girls represent 40% of the new arrivals and face the risk of sexual violence and trafficking.
UNHCR’s William Spindler, commented:
“Many run out of resources to continue their journey, and left destitute are forced to live rough in public parks and resort to begging and other negative coping mechanism in order to meet their daily needs.”
Following the declaration of a state of emergency, Ecuador has been able to increase its response to the migrants. The authorities have rapidly increased their registration capacity and can now register up to 5,600 people each day.
The majority of the migrants who enter Ecuador from Venezuela continue through the country to Peru and Chile; however, around 20% are expected to stay.
According to UN Migration Agency (IOM) there has been a 900% increase in Venezuelan nationals living abroad in the subcontinent since 2015.
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Image credit: Greg Kahn, National Geographic