The United Nations and Ecuador have launched Abrazos que Unen, or Hugs that Unite, an awareness campaign that seeks to generate empathy and compassion for the thousands of refugees and migrants in the country.
Abrazos que Unen is the result of regional efforts developed to generate empathy and reduce xenophobic prejudice and violence. In other Latin America countries, similar campaigns such as Somos Panas, Mi Causa es tu Causa, and Somos lo Mismo in Colombia, Peru and Panama have also been launched in recent weeks.
According to Ecuador’s interior ministry, there are about 250,000 Venezuelan refugees in the country and another 100,000 Colombians.
Through the hashtag and website of the campaign, the UN program will share positive life stories about the social integration of refugees and migrants in Ecuador. The stories will show how local people support refugees and migrants while describing how they contribute positively to their host communities.
After the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people from different nationalities to the country, the resurgence of discriminatory actions that strengthen negative stereotypes were identified. In 2018, more than 954,000 Venezuelan people entered Ecuador, most continuing on to Peru, Brazil and Chile.
Most of the Colombians living in Ecuador moved to the country in the 1990s and early 2000s as a result of the the civil war and drug trade afflicting Colombia.
In December, the UN’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) in Ecuador revealed that from 2,657 Venezuelans who participated in this study, 46 per cent had suffered discrimination, and 15 per cent experienced some kind of physical or verbal violence during their migratory process.
Abrazos que Unen seeks to appeal to the solidarity and hospitality that characterize the Ecuadorian population. During the past 30 years, prior to the Venezuelan migration, more than 120,000 people were recognized as refugees in the country, the highest number in Latin America.
Another objective of this campaign is to show refugees and migrants as self-sufficient and independent, and to highlight the positive impact of the integration of two or more cultures. When refugees and migrants are integrated into the country, both can benefit from the creation of new bonds that contribute to the growth of society.
The UN hopes that Abrazos Que Unen can serve as a base for the development of activities in favour of integration and peaceful coexistence among refugees, migrants and their host communities.
Credit: Relief Web, https://reliefweb.int