Colombian Refugees Seek Help in Ecuador

More than 800 Colombian refugees have crossed over the border to Ecuador from the violence-ravaged department of Narino, the United Nations said .

Colombian Refugees Seek Help in Ecuador
The Colombians arrived Thursday and are staying in shelters in the northeastern coastal town of San Lorenzo, eight miles from the Colombian border, until officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees interview them, U.N. spokeswoman Andrea Escalante told The Associated Press.

She said all their basic needs were being met.

"We can speak with them this weekend to see what their intentions are," Escalante said. "They left now because of their conflict, but many of them don't want to stay."

There are currently about 250,000 Colombian refugees living in Ecuador -- more than in any other Latin American country -- the U.N. agency said in a statement.

Most of them are Colombians who have fled the internal armed conflict that has raged there for more than 40 years. Many return after a few weeks when the threat of violence eases.

The U.N. estimates about 3 million Colombians have been driven from their homes by violence without leaving the country -- making it the largest internal refugee population in the world after Sudan. The government's definition of a refugee puts the number at about 2 million.

Francisco Ortiz of the Red Fronteriza de Paz, a group representing border communities in Ecuador, said the Colombians arrived Thursday "in the worst human condition" as they fled fighting between the Colombian military and rebels.

He said many were scared, hungry and sick. He estimated that at least 1,000 Colombians had crossed over the border.

AP
Last Mod: 25 Ağustos 2007, 15:47
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