Ecuador’s Interior Ministry reports a sharp increase in the number of Colombians entering Ecuador in 2021. A ministry spokeswoman said the recent influx is due to a rising tide of violence in southern Colombia as well as extreme poverty. “Criminal gangs have increased their activity since the pandemic began, forcing families off their property with threats of violence,” she said. “The Colombian government does not have the resources to protect the population in rural areas and people are crossing the border irregularly into Ecuador. Most of the violence is related to the drug trade.”
According to a Colombian government, there have been 61 murders and hundreds of injuries due to gang violence in southern Colombian departments since April, with most of it occurring in Nariño.
Many recently arrived Colombia migrants are staying in safe houses in Carchi, Imbabura, Esmeraldas, Sucumbíos and Quito, where they are being assisted in filing applications for refugee status with the Ecuadorian migration office and the United Nations. In some cases, families have required extra police protection due to ongoing threats from Colombian gangs.
According to social service organizations in Ibarra and Quito, some of the migrants entering the country are suffering “extreme hunger” and are in immediate need of medical care. Once they are registered, adult migrants are offered Covid-19 vaccines.
Who gets vaccinated this week?
Ecuadorian citizens and residents 59 and older are eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccines beginning Monday, June 21, according to the Ministry of Health. In addition, those 40 and older with chronic diseases or disabilities are also eligible.
To date, 2,351,838 Ecuadorians have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 1,206,416 have received two. The ministry reports that it has more 1.3 million doses on hand and expects to receive another half a million this week from Pfizer and Sinovac.
Domestic workers suffer during pandemic
According to the Latin America Economic Commission, domestic workers in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru have been especially hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with 20 to 25 percent being left unemployed. The situation is even worse in Ecuador, one labor group says, with as many as seven in 10 maids, nannies and household gardeners losing their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020.
The economic commission says Covid-19 health restrictions has led to a high rate of domestic job losses as employers restrict access their homes by those outside the family. “The situation is different than in previous economic downturns when it was professional and semi-professional workers who suffered higher rates of unemployment,” a commission statement says. “In the case of the pandemic, many of those workers were able to work online from home and were able to keep their employment, while fear of Covid infection has led to more job losses among domestic workers, who are overwhelmingly women.”
The Ecuador Union of Domestic and Related Workers says many domestic workers who lost their jobs early in the pandemic have been rehired. “We don’t have exact numbers but we believe that about half of those laid off in 2020 have returned to their jobs,” a union spokesman said. “Because so much of domestic labor is informal it is difficult to know the full impact of current conditions and because of the informality, most of those who have lost their jobs are not entitled to government assistance.”
Proof of vaccine cards available online
For those who have been vaccinated but have not received a vaccination certificate, it can downloaded from the Ministry of Health website. According to the ministry, the online request will be acknowledged immediately and the certificate will be available by email within 24 hours.