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Colombia: assistance in Ecuador

Briefing notes

Colombia: assistance in Ecuador

13 October 2000

UNHCR is funding assistance for about 300 Colombians who have crossed into Ecuador's Sucumbíos Province in the past two weeks after fleeing unrest in Colombia's southern department of Putumayo. The latest group to arrive this week includes 25 families - or about 130 people. Some of them said they were fleeing clashes around the Putumayo town of La Dorada. In addition to its office in Bogota, UNHCR has three field offices in Colombia, including one in the Putumayo town of Puerto Asís, near the border with Ecuador. The other two field offices are near the borders of Panama and Venezuela. Our activities in Colombia are aimed at strengthening the local capacity to deal with the country's huge population of internally displaced people - now estimated at more than 1.1 million. Nearly 600,000 Colombians are estimated to have been uprooted in the past two years alone, a worrisome trend that is continuing in places like Putumayo where profits from the drug trade are fuelling a bloody conflict involving leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitary forces and government troops. In Ecuador, UNHCR recently opened a liaison office and has helped the government and local agencies identify possible sites for refugee reception centres in the event of a large influx from Colombia.