Colombian refugees in Ecuador brought 'out of invisibility'

The Miami Herald reports that the government of Ecuador is taking steps to fast-track the asylum process for refugees.

As violence has been pushed south into the jungles near the border, more displaced Colombians have sought refuge in Ecuador, a country known to have open policies concerning asylum. Though the nation claims 22,000 registered refugees, the government and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimate that there is a much larger ”invisible population” of 135,000 people in need of international protection.

The $2 million ”Enhanced Registration” project takes the asylum process to the field and shortens the waiting period — from several months to just one day — for a government decision on refugee status to those seeking asylum.

”It is very important that we bring refugees out of invisibility so that they can get jobs and function legally in society,” said Alfonso Morales, general director of the department for refugees for Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “For a long time, they have been vulnerable; without documentation it is very difficult to get legal work and integrate into society.”

Read the full story here.

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