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UNHCR and IOM welcome Ecuador's move to regularize Venezuelan refugees and migrants

Press releases

UNHCR and IOM welcome Ecuador's move to regularize Venezuelan refugees and migrants

10 June 2022

Geneva – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) welcomed Ecuador’s regularization initiative that is expected to benefit thousands of Venezuelans.

Ecuador is host to the third-largest Venezuelan refugee and migrant population worldwide. While a majority of the half a million living there are undocumented, Ecuador’s decision to begin regularizing their status will start providing those that benefit from the initiative with legal protection and stability.

It will ease their access to rights, basic services and the job market, helping fast-track their socio-economic integration in Ecuador.

“We commend Ecuador’s effort in securing the rights and finding practical solutions for Venezuelans who have sought safety in the country,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “In these increasingly challenging times for many displaced communities worldwide, the government and the people of Ecuador have continued to show strong solidarity and compassion, and above all, commitment to protect the rights of Venezuelans on the move.”

As the economic and health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt in countries and communities across Latin America and the Caribbean, refugees and migrants remain some of the most vulnerable populations – especially those without documentation.

“This initiative is one of the most pragmatic ways of eliminating barriers to a long-term integration. With a regular status, refugees and migrants can fully contribute to their host communities - something they have longed for years,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino. “Diasporas play an invaluable role in the life and growth of host societies being a crucial driver for development.”

UNHCR and IOM, as co-leaders of the Regional Inter-agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V), which brings together 53 partners in the country, reiterate their support to the Government of Ecuador in this initiative, and offer their expertise, capacity, presence and resources to keep strengthening the process and ensure no-one is left behind.

This is the second time Ecuador has moved to regularize Venezuelan refugees and migrants. Of those registered biometrically during a previous exercise in 2019, nearly 50,000 had their status regularized by 2020.

According to data from the R4V Platform, of the six million refugees and migrants who have left Venezuela, around half lack regular status. Around 80 per cent are hosted across Latin America and the Caribbean and several countries have adopted policies to regularize, protect and include Venezuelans in their communities and economies. These processes, coordinated through regular mechanisms such as the Quito Process, require significant financial support to succeed.

UNHCR and IOM call on the international community, development actors and international and regional financial institutions to provide sufficient and timely support to the sound commitment from Governments across the region in helping foster long-term solutions for Venezuelan refugees and migrants and host communities.