Ecuador’s foreign ministry declared a state of emergency on the country’s northern border Wednesday as thousands of Venezuelans wait to be processed on the Colombian side. “The flow into the country has reached 4,200 people a day and we cannot handle more without additional resources,” the ministry said.
The increased flow, according to immigration officials, is the result of continuing deterioration of living conditions in Venezuela and the fear that new Colombia president, Iván Duque, will close the border with Venezuela.
The foreign ministry says the current situation at Rumichaca Pass, on the Ecuador-Colombia border, has become “unsustainable” according to Deputy Minister Chávez, who signed the emergency declaration. “We need the declaration to bring more personnel to the border to handle the work load. Not only is there an immigration crisis but there is a humanitarian crisis as well, with thousands of people camping at the border in unsanitary conditions.”
With the emergency declaration, Ecuador will receive United Nations financial and material assistance, including tents, food rations, personal hygiene kits and water. Chávez said that relief workers and provision trucks are en route to Rumichaca Pass.
“Besides supplies, we are sending doctors and social workers to the border,” he said. “We will concentrate on helping the most vulnerable groups, including the elderly, children, girls and women.”
According to the foreign ministry, 454,000 Venezuelans have entered Ecuador in 2018, with the majority exiting the country at the Peruvian border. An estimated 50,000 Venezuelans remain in the country, concentrated in Quito, Santo Domingo, Cuenca and Riobamba.