Operation: Opération: Ecuador



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Key Figures

2019 planning fugures
86% of applicants have access to the refugee status determination
85% of reception arrangements are adapted to assist people with specific needs
70% of people of concern who have opted for local integration have locally integrated
42% of people of concern have formal access to work opportunities
2017 year-end figures
1,185 people of concern were provided with legal assistance by the Public Defender and Ombudsman with the capacity building support from UNHCR
851 families joined the Graduation Model, aimed at lifting people out of poverty and making them self-reliant
655 people were submitted for resettlement, of whom 643 departed to third countries 
317  government staff were trained on refugee law and RSD 
219 refugees received national ID cards, providing the same rights and access to services as nationals

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2017 145,333
2016 127,390
2015 133,118


[["Refugees",47416],["Refugee-like situation",45000],["Asylum-seekers",11917],["Others of concern",41000]]
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2017 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[20.97998614,22.04358705,25.03556459,21.807945349,21.34354744,37.98553615],"expenditure":[12.05890811,12.67403558,14.30981715,11.33282662,null,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[20.97998614,22.04358705,19.94556459,18.807945349,21.34354744,37.98553615],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,5.09,3,null,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[12.05890811,12.67403558,11.33982636,11.33282662,null,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,2.96999079,null,null,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

Year-end Overview

Plan Overview

Working environment

The large-scale arrival of Venezuelans has required a shift in UNHCR’s response in Ecuador. While Colombians are still arriving in increasing numbers as a result of conflicts between armed groups over territory and power vacuums left by the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the Northern border, in 2018, Venezuelans became the largest nationality of asylum-seekers in Ecuador. Since 2015, close to 1,154,000 Venezuelans have arrived, of whom more than half in arrived in 2018 only. The majority of Venezuelan arrivals have moved on to Peru, while an estimated 250,000 have settled in Ecuador. The percentage of those remaining in Ecuador is rising and now stands at 26 per cent. Current arrivals are on average 2,000 daily with occasional peaks of up to 5,000. The majority arrive in conditions of vulnerability. The Government has a “mixed flow” approach, while UNHCR considers the vast majority (some 90 per cent) to come under the Cartagena definition. To date, some 8,300 Venezuelans have applied for asylum – up from the 1,500 people who applied for asylum in 2017.  
Most Venezuelans enter on a tourist visa and can subsequently apply for a UNASUR permit to regularize their stay, but many cannot afford the high costs and requirements and thus end up without legal status. The Government has indicated its willingness to lower these barriers as part of a national response plan. While access to basic health and education are free, services are overstretched in a fragile economic climate, and the presence of Venezuelans has led to increased manifestations of xenophobia.
UNHCR and IOM coordinate the UN response to the Venezuela situation. UNHCR has strengthened its presence along the Northern border and in the South, and assists through the provision of non-food items (NFIs), cash, legal aid, livelihoods and protection monitoring, as well as through the continuing strengthening of the RSD system.
UNHCR’s priorities in Ecuador are in line with the multi-year multi-partner (MYMP) strategy which aims at consolidating the legal protection framework though proper implementation of the 2017 Human Mobility Law; strengthening the asylum system through participation in the Quality Asylum Initiative; strengthening border protection and monitoring; enhancing access by people of concern to state programs and services; and expanding local integration prospects.
Ecuador is the third destination country in the region after Peru and Colombia, as well as an important transit country for Venezuelans. UNHCR is emphasizing the refugee dimension of the Venezuela situation and resulting influx. Therefore, UNHCR encourages the Government of Ecuador to respect the right to asylum by Venezuelans, and lower barriers to migratory alternatives for those who do not apply for asylum. Furthermore, UNHCR appeals to the international community for necessary support in view of the increased burden on Ecuador’s economy and society as a result of the continuing arrival of Colombians and the mass arrival of Venezuelans.

Key Priorities

In 2019, UNHCR will focus on:
  • Maintaining access to territory and asylum.
  • National registration and issuance of IDs to recognized refugees.
  • Regularization of Venezuelans through migratory alternatives.
  • Supporting the Government´s national response plan to the Venezuelan situation.
  • UN anti-xenophobia campaign.
  • Identification of vulnerable cases and referral to institutions.
  • Strengthening the National Ombudsman and Public Defender capacity to provide free legal assistance to people of concern.
  • Promoting livelihoods opportunities for people of concern, including through a pilot with the Ministry of Social and Economic Inclusion.