Over 100 Colombians wanted the UN Refugees Office to help them be relocated in other countries after their turbulent stay in Ecuador.
Ecuador's Police evicted on Friday night Colombian refugees who had camped in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office (UNHCR) headquarters in Quito and subsequently prevented them from being sheltered in a church.
“At first they told us we could stay 15 days [in the camp]; later they authorized our stay a few more days. However, we want to be relocated to another country as we have been asking from the beginning,” Vanesa Ibarguen, a woman who left her country hoping to find a safer place, stated.
Since June 3rd, over 100 Colombian refugees had been protesting outside the UNHCR headquarters, where they were requesting the international organization help them to relocate them to European countries.
“The Colombian violence has haunted many of us here. This is why it is better to look for other countries to guarantee our lives,” Ausberto Garcia, a refugee who was living in a shelter, said on Saturday.
[Actualización]— Wambra (@wambraEc) August 3, 2019
Las más de 106 personas refugiadas #Colombia fueron trasladadas a una escuela Fe y Alegría después de diálogo con @DEFENSORIAEC MIES, Iglesia y organizaciones de migración
Momento en que salen de Iglesia Santa Teresita #Quito
Buscan diálogo con @ACNUREcuador pic.twitter.com/pu5tc6hgH3
Urgent: "This is private property," said the Saint Teresa Church procurator while explaining the National Police-backed up expulsion of dozens of refugee families and more than 30 African-descent children and women. Families asked to spend the night at the Church.
Update: Over 106 Colombian refugees were transferred to a 'Hope and Hapiness' school after a dialogue with the Social Inclusion Ministry, the church and organizations supporting migrants. Images of the refugees leaving the Saint Teresa Church in Quito. They are looking for a dialogue with the UNHCR office in Ecuador.
Among the migrants' potential destinations is Sweden, a country whose embassy in Colombia told refugees that, in order to process their relocation, they "must first reach our territory, for every case is evaluated here."
Through a press release, the UNHCR stated that its function is to help refugees in their resettlement procedures in other countries but it cannot guarantee favorable results for all applicant families.
"Resettlement is a discretionary act awarded by the States as a sign of solidarity towards countries hosting large numbers of refugees," UNHCR said and added that resettlement quotas and criteria for choosing beneficiaries "depend on the countries implementing these types of programs."
After being evicted from their camp, the Colombians tried to spend the night inside a Catholic church. However, they were also evicted from there by the police. At dawn on Saturday, the refugees were transferred to other shelters.
Currently, some 65,500 Colombians remain as refugees in Ecuador, according to data reported by local media El Comercio.