Key decision made for the protection of refugees in Ecuador

Posted on September 27, 2014 • Filed under: Border Issues, Ecuador, Politics reported the Constitutional Court of Ecuador recently raised the hopes of hundreds of people who have been forced to flee the violence in Colombia. A landmark decision by the Constitutional Court in Ecuador has struck down the most restrictive provisions of a decree limiting access to asylum.

Ecuador has a long tradition as a leading provider of asylum to those fleeing violence in their home countries. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has highlighted the efforts made by Ecuador since the start of the humanitarian crisis in Colombia. However, to date no more than 57,000 refugees have been granted refugee status in Ecuador, 98% of these are Colombians.

Since June 2012, Decree 1182 has imposed two main barriers for those seeking asylum in Ecuador, including the need to register with the authorities within 15 days of arrival in the country. This is particularly difficult for those crossing the border from Colombia in remote rural areas. They are often unaware of the rule and may lack the money to travel to a designated city to report to the authorities – sometimes 4 hours drive away. Some are traumatised by their experiences of conflict and fear reporting to the authorities. Organisations working with refugees point out that the majority of new arrivals fail to comply and are subsequently denied refugee status, becoming illegal migrants. They are unable to work; access housing and most importantly, risk being deported back to Colombia. Read Article

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