15 August, 2018
The United Nations refugee agency is increasing its efforts in Ecuador to help the government deal with a large number of people from Venezuela.
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) seeks to protect and assist refugees around the world.
UNHCR officials say more than 500,000 Venezuelans have entered Ecuador through the Colombian border this year. That is about 3,000 refugees entering the country each day.
The UNHCR reports that number has increased to more than 4,000 people a day arriving in the first week of August. The government of Ecuador declared a state of emergency last week in several areas in an effort to deal with the growing refugee problem.
William Spindler is a UNHCR spokesman. He said the agency supports Ecuador's decision, which permits it to use additional resources to deal with the problem. He also said that the number of people leaving Venezuela "is one of Latin America's largest mass population movements in history."
Spindler said the refugees walk for days or even weeks in dangerous conditions before reaching Ecuador. He said many are then forced to beg or seek other ways to survive.
He noted that about 20 percent of refugees are in need of special protection and assistance. He said, "Women and girls represent 40 percent of the new arrivals and face serious risks of sexual violence."
Spindler added that most Venezuelans entering Ecuador do not end their travels there. Instead, they continue on to Peru and Chile. He said the UNHCR is increasing its emergency services.
The agency will provide Ecuador with technical assistance, such as screening and registering the refugees. He says agency workers will identify those Venezuelans in need of special protection and aid.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Lisa Schlein reported this story for VOA News. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
Words in this Story
beg – v. to ask people for money or food
screening – n. the act of doing a test on a person or a person's blood, urine, etc., to look for evidence of a disease, illegal drug, etc.