The U.S. State Department's assistant secretary for refugee issues is drawing attention to the plight of Colombian refugees who have fled across the border into Ecuador.
Anne C. Richards says the problem is continuing even though the Colombian government is in peace talks with rebels. Many refugees say they are fleeing threats and extortion by irregular and paramilitary groups. The U.N. refugee agency puts the number of Colombian refugees in Ecuador at more than 50,000 although the Ecuadorian government says the figure is much higher, probably over 100,000.
Richard toured a U.S.-backed refugee shelter near the border on Saturday and said in an interview with The Associated Press that the problem has gotten too little attention.
She praised Ecuador for accepting so many refugees and for letting many work, though she said refugees still confront problems including discrimination and lack of key documents.
Most Colombian refugees are live in northern Ecuador but sizeable communities have also settled in Guayaquil and Cuenca, in the south.
Will Ecuador return to the bond market?
Ecuador, which defaulted on $3.2 billion of its foreign debt four years ago, is planning to tap global credit markets this year as demand for higher-yielding assets drives down borrowing costs, Standard & Poor’s said.
The Andean country’s government first probably would try to buy back bonds from creditors who refused to accept terms of the country’s 2009 debt repurchase, New York-based S&P analyst Richard Francis said today in an audio broadcast on the company’s website. Such a move would reduce legal risks if any new bonds are issued, he said.
Ecuador, home to South America’s third-largest crude reserves, would join Bolivia and Paraguay in tapping international investors amid rising demand for emerging-market bonds. President Rafael Correa, who needs about $6.1 billion to finance the country’s total spending needs this year, has become“more pragmatic” since his Feb. 17 re-election and may implement legal reforms needed to boost private investment, Francis said.