- PPI Web Desk
Quito, Ecuador: Latin America is home to 20% of the 82.4 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, facing the second-largest crisis of external displacement globally. About 5.6 million migrants and refugees are fleeing from the political conflicts and economic distress in Venezuela.
After visiting three countries in Latin America, Filippo Grandi the UN High Commissioner for Refugees compliments the region for its solidarity towards refugees and its commitment to protect them, including asylum seekers and other people without homes.
The countries in Latin America face an unprecedented crisis of displacement. Filippo Grandi said, “Yet, they have stepped up to the challenge by showing unique generosity and dedication to find dignified solutions for those forced to flee.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the refugee crisis in Latin America. Some countries initiated regularization programmes on a large scale to recognize the full potential of refugees and how they can contribute to the hosting communities.
Filippo Grandi explained, “Inclusion is one of the most practical and concrete forms of protection. It helps children to get an education, people to receive the medical treatment they need, prevents exploitation and abuse and supports people to acquire the dignity of self-sustaining work,” adding “Inclusion is the new protection.”
This year’s World Refugee Day in Latin America marks the advances and efforts by the Governments made in inclusion and protection of all displaced people. Columbia and Ecuador took bold steps in inclusion and bringing to light the full potential of refugees. The Latin American countries are a positive example and showing the way on how to look after and protect vulnerable groups like displaced people and refugees.
The UN High Commissioner started his Latin America trip in Panama, which holds a long tradition of showing solidarity to people fleeing their countries, hosting more than 2,500 refugees and approximately 13,000 asylum seekers from various countries.
Filippo Grandi met the Colombian President Ivan Duque and local authorities to thank them, including the people of Colombia, for granting temporary protection and security to more than a million people fleeing from Venezuela, saying this will pave the way for their inclusion into the society. During his visit to Colombia, he was able to meet migrants and refugees from Venezuela and listened to their stories and concerns.
In Quito, Ecuador, Filippo Grandi talked to the Vice-President and government officials, also members of civil society and leaders of refugee and migrant organizations. With the private sector, he discussed new strategies to integrate displaced people into the labor market to assist them in their socio-economic integration. Ecuador is the host of about 430,000 forcibly displaced people from Venezuela and has more than 70,000 other refugees, most of them from Colombia.
If given a fair chance, migrants and refugees can integrate and become a contribution to the hosting communities. Filippo Grandi said, “In this sense, the rest of the world can learn a great deal about the inclusion and integration of refugees in Latin America and the Caribbean.”