Help for Colombian Refugees in Ecuador

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According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, today there are more than 65 million people displaced.

Ecuador hosts the largest number of refugees in Latin America. Most are Colombians who fled the armed conflict that began in their country in the 1960s.

In partnership with the Scalabrini Mission, Catholic Relief Services works with Colombian refugees and representatives of the communities where they resettle. CRS supports the mission with projects that provide critical humanitarian, psychological, social and legal aid, as well as livelihoods support in five provinces on the Colombian-Ecuadorian border.

The Scalabrini Mission has been in Ecuador for 23 years and a partner with CRS for 8 years. We work with Colombian refugees in 5 provinces of Ecuador, serving about 1,700 families—8,000 people—annually. Photo courtesy of Ruben Andrade
New arrivals receive humanitarian assistance and a comprehensive assessment of the family’s needs. They may receive help for issues related to violence, health, education, disability, business or political status. Photo courtesy of Ruben Andrade
Refugees often face discrimination. The Scalabrini Mission holds special activities in schools and other child friendly spaces to promote peaceful relationships. Photo by Ryla Simmons/CRS
The Scalabrini Mission youth program promotes peace between Ecuadorian and Colombian youth. Participants meet about two times a month, working on self-esteem, nonviolence, solidarity and friendship. Photo by Ryla Simmons/CRS
Two friends participate in the Youth for Peace program at the Scalabrini Mission. Photo by Ryla Simmons/CRS
Everyone who arrives at the Scalabrini Mission is invited to participate in counseling and support groups. Photo by Ryla Simmons/CRS
In this support group, participants draw emblems with pictures representing their past, present and hopes for the future. Photo by Ryla Simmons/CRS
“I have a university degree in teaching and my husband is an environmental engineer. Here in Ecuador he is a gardener and I try to sell empanadas on the side of the street. The ones who suffer the most are the children.” Photo by Ryla Simmons/CRS
Jonathan, playing the bass, has been in Ecuador since December 2015. His family arrived with nothing. The Scalabrini Mission helped him recover from painful experiences, including having to flee Colombia. Photo by Ryla Simmons/CRS
A CRS Savings and Internal Lending Community has helped small business owners with loans and business plans, working in partnership with Scalabrini Mission. Photo by Ryla Simmons/CRS
Women learn new trades at the Scalabrini Mission, including nail and hair styling. Photo by Ryla Simmons/CRS
Sisters Kelly Estefay Reyes and Brensi Bonilla: “At a party [they] said that we should be burned because we are black and we are Colombian. They started the fire … and we thought they would really kill us.” Photo by Ryla
At a playground inside the Scalabrini Mission, kids can be kids. Photo by Ryla Simmons/CRS
A Colombian family, in Ecuador for 9 months, looks out over their new city. Photo courtesy of Ruben Andrade

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